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Nearly 10 million children in Afghanistan are in desperate need of humanitarian aid, and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is appealing for about 200 million U.S. dollars to respond to their needs, said a UN official on Monday.
The appeal covers various sectors, including water and sanitation, child protection, nutrition, health, and education, said Herve De Lys, UNICEF representative in Afghanistan.
Those least responsible for this crisis, are paying the highest price, including the children killed and injured in a series of atrocities in Kabul since last Thursday, he told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York via a video link.
This year alone, more than 550 children have been killed and more than 1,400 others injured, he noted. "This is clearly a child-protection crisis in a country that is already one of the worst places on earth to be a child."
Against this backdrop of conflict and insecurity, children live in communities running out of water because of the drought.
They're missing life-saving vaccines, including against polio, a disease that can paralyze children for life. Many are so malnourished they lie in hospital beds too weak to grasp an outstretched finger, said De Lys. "These children are deprived of their right to a healthy and protected childhood."
UNICEF is concerned about reports that international donors are cutting or pausing aid to the country -- not just for UNICEF but for other aid agencies as well -- at this difficult time. The agency is also concerned about ensuring the safety and security needed to deliver programs nationwide, especially for its female national staff and female social workers, he said.
He urged all partners to support UNICEF as it starts implementing its scale-up plan, which includes providing mobile health clinics; vaccinating babies against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and vaccinating people against COVID-19; treating children who are severely acutely malnourished; delivering water to areas affected by the drought, and distributing hygiene kits; getting children ready for school, and school ready for children for the new school term next month.