Around the world, Muslim communities are coming together to commemorate the holy month of Ramadan through prayer and fasting. But millions of children and families in Afghanistan are unable to have a proper meal to start and break their fast. They are in the grip of a devastating humanitarian and economic crisis.

Economic collapse has pushed food prices out of reach for many families in Afghanistan

A staggering 97 percent of Afghans could be living in poverty this year. Widespread unemployment combined with soaring prices of basic commodities is putting food and other necessities out of reach for many families.

As food insecurity deepens, the number of children who are not getting enough to eat is rising. It is estimated that by the end of 2022, half the country’s children under age 5 will be suffering from acute malnutrition. 

Fatima, 11 months old, holding a packet of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food at UNICEF-supported Speen Boldak hospital in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. © UNICEF/UN0594776/Karimi

In 2022, UNICEF plans to treat 1.1 million children under 5 for severe acute malnutrition 

UNICEF is on the ground in Afghanistan, working with partners to deliver urgently needed supplies and services for children who are acutely malnourished.

Children like 11-month-old Fatima, who was sickly and undernourished when parents brought her to Speen Boldak hospital, a UNICEF-supported health facility in Kandahar province. After a nutrition screening, Fatima’s parents were given a supply of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food, which can restore a malnourished child to health in a matter of weeks. 

Sajeed, 2, accompanied his mother to Parun city in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province to receive cash assistance from UNICEF in Dec. 2021. © UNICEF/UN0574478/Fazel

Emergency cash assistance lets families prioritize their spending

To help Afghan families pay for necessities, UNICEF provides emergency cash transfers through a donor-funded program. The temporary income allows families to allocate funds according to their must urgent needs: food, fuel for heating, materials for shelter repairs, health care, transportation for their children to school, warm clothing and blankets. It also helps families avoid loans and a spiral of debt while reducing the risk of child labor and child marriage. 

None of this lifesaving work would be possible without the sustained support of partners and donors who recognize that Afghanistan’s children have a right to grow up in safety, and to have what every child needs: healthy food, a quality education and hope for the future. 

This Ramadan, as thoughts turn to those less fortunate, partner with UNICEF to bring much-needed relief to the children of Afghanistan. Together, we can make a difference. Please donate. 

Top photo: On Feb. 24, 2022 in Afghanistan, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell visited with girls at a UNICEF-supported community-based school in Kandahar’s Dand district. © UNICEF/UN0597233/Faze