Haseeb like 10 million Afghan children needs humanitarian assistance to survive

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enewspaper.com.pk/Haseeb Khan

KABUL, Afghanistan (APP): A green-eyed Haseeb Ahmed, 15, an orphan left his native area Mazar Sharif due to war and was now doing a cobbler job on a roadside in Kabul to feed two young brothers, two sisters and an elderly widowed mother.

Haseeb said his father was labour and supported his family with his meagre income but was killed in the long war in Afghanistan and he has to take over the responsibility of feeding the family.

Like any other young boy of his age, Haseeb also wanted to go to school but he has no other option but to eke out a livelihood for his impoverished family.

Talking to APP, he said now he and his other brother, who was just 13 years old were doing this labour job.

Haseeb’s worries could be judged from his face and eyes, said he earned 100 to 150 Afghanis daily which is hardly enough for his family to have daily meals. The continuous wars and interference of superpowers in Afghanistan, due to their strategic location in the last 40 years, had badly affected this impoverished country.

These foreign-imposed wars had killed hundreds of thousands of Afghans and orphaned the same number of people. This was not only the one story of Haseeb Ahmed, but one could find hundreds of thousands of children like Haseeb who were compelled to leave schools and did a labour job at their tender age. Most of the people in Afghanistan were attached to agriculture and labour jobs as there were no industries in this war-ravaged country.

According to a report of Save the Children Afghanistan, over 12,500 children were killed or maimed between 2015 and 2018 while 274 children were recruited for combat or support roles.

More than 3.7 million children were currently out of school, 60 per cent of them were girls. At least 700 schools were closed because of the violence in 2018. 3.8 million children needed humanitarian assistance, 600,000 of whom were suffering from acute malnutrition.

Between 2014 and 2018, over 8,000 civilians fell victim to explosives such as Improvised Explosive Devices and mines. 84 per cent of the victims of explosive remnants of war were children. Increased conflict and insecurity in Afghanistan have left children paying a heavy price. Now, with a security crisis, skyrocketing food prices, a severe drought, the spread of COVID-19, and another harsh winter just around the corner, children were at greater risk than ever. Children should not pay for conflict with their childhoods.

Afghanistan’s children needed peace, said Muhammad Tahir Khan, a Pakistani journalist, who also visited Kabul along with other journalists soon after falling of Kabul to the Taliban.

The continuous war had badly affected the economy of this country and forty per cent of Afghanistan economy was run through foreign aid. According to the latest Asian Development Bank (ADB) Report, 47.5 per cent of Afghanistan’s total population was living below the poverty line and more than 3.5 million Afghans were still living in Pakistan and other countries as refugees.

“One in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from. Nearly half of all children under the age of five are predicted to be acutely malnourished in the next 12 months,” the United Nations Secretary-General spokesperson Dujarric has said.

Afghanistan’s 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan required US $ 1.3 billion to help more than 18 million people, but the efforts were 40 per cent funded, leaving a deficit of US $ 766 million. Dujarric said the Geneva “conference will advocate for a swift scale-up in funding”.

After taking over of Kabul on August 15 by the Taliban, the people of Afghanistan were again confronted with a number of multiple challenges where the panic people were making efforts to leave their motherland and trying their luck for a better future abroad.

So far, thousands of people had left their country, the majority of them were those Afghans who had worked with the US and NATO forces. According to the US, they had evacuated 1,23,000 Afghans to the USA and some other countries and still, a large number were desperate to leave their country but, could not be evacuated due to the expiry of the August 31 deadline for foreign troops’ evacuation under the Doha agreement.

According to UNICEF’s latest report, against a backdrop of conflict and insecurity, children were living in communities that were running out of water because of drought. There were missing out on life-saving vaccines. Many were so malnourished as they lied in hospital beds, too weak to grasp an outstretched finger. Around 10 million children needed humanitarian assistance to survive. If current would trends continue, UNICEF predicted that one million children under five in Afghanistan would suffer from acute malnutrition.

Around 300,000 children had been forced out of their homes. The United Nations has convened an international aid conference in Geneva on September 13 to help avert what United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called a “looming humanitarian catastrophe”. “We need the international community to stand together and support the Afghan people,” Guterres tweeted announcing the conference that he would seek a swift scale-up in funding for humanitarian relief. “We also appeal for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to make sure Afghans continue to get the essential services they need,” he said.

Many Afghans were struggling to feed their families amid severe drought well before the Taliban seized power last month and millions might now face starvation with the country isolated and the economy unravelling, the aid agencies said.

“The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and is committed to staying and delivering for them,” Guterres said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had also urged the international community to accord urgent priority to addressing the humanitarian needs and ensuring economic stability in Afghanistan, as the United Nations warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe in the war-torn country.

PM Imran also talked to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres by telephone, and the two leaders discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan with a particular focus on the humanitarian situation, a handout issued by the Prime Minister Office said.

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