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UNICEF extends aid to children in Afghanistan affected by flash floods

Afghanistan’s most recent floods killed about 350 people, including dozens of children, and damaged more than 7,800 homes leaving over 5,000 families displaced. 

UNICEF has since provided safe water, hygiene kits with soap, toothbrushes and more to communities in Afghanistan. The children’s fund also organised hygiene sessions to teach civilians about handwashing and safe water storage amidst the natural disaster.

Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan said that international communities should “redouble efforts and investments to support communities to alleviate and adapt to the impact of climate change on children.”

UNICEF has also supported civilians in Afghanistan by offering cash assistance to help families provide for their basic needs, and by assigning health and nutrition teams to treat those injured and ill. Further, the agency has distributed warm clothing, blankets and household items to families who had lost possessions.

Intensifying climate crisis

UNICEF reports that the recent flash floods in Afghanistan reveal an “intensifying climate crisis” that is “increasing in frequency and ferocity” causing loss of lives and livelihoods and damaged infrastructure. 

Dr. Oyewale said UNICEF and members of the humanitarian community need to prepare for a “new reality of climate-related disasters.”

The growing number and severity of extreme weather events will require UNICEF and other humanitarian actors to step in with even more rapid and large-scale humanitarian responses,” she said. “But this can only be possible with strengthened preparedness measures, such as greater pre-positioning of emergency relief supplies and enhanced coordination with partners.”

She also said that UNICEF needs to concentrate on helping communities adapt to climate and environmental shocks to reduce civilian dependence on humanitarian aid. 

Children’s Climate Risk Index 

UNICEF says that Afghanistan is ranked 15th out of 163 nations on its 2021 Children’s Climate Risk Index which means that children there are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate and environmental shocks. However, Afghanistan is said to be among those least responsible for creating climate issues.

Dr. Oyewale said heavy rainfall should not trigger a disaster for children in Afghanistan.

We need to prioritise the unique needs of children in decision-making and address these needs now to protect children from future disasters while simultaneously investing in the basic services they rely on,” she said. 

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