Thousands of Afghan children impacted by flash floods

As flash flooding continues in Afghanistan, tens of thousands of children have been impacted, UNICEF has said.

Tens of thousands of children in Afghanistan remain affected by ongoing flash floods, especially in the north and west, the U.N. children’s agency said Monday.

Unusually heavy seasonal rains have been wreaking havoc on multiple parts of the country, killing hundreds of people and destroying property and crops. The U.N. food agency has warned that many survivors are unable to make a living.

UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, said the extreme weather has all of the hallmarks of an intensifying climate crisis, with some of the affected areas having experienced drought last year.

The World Food Program said the exceptionally heavy rains in Afghanistan killed more than 300 people and destroyed thousands of houses in May, mostly in the northern province of Baghlan. Survivors have been left with no homes, no land, and no source of livelihood, WFP said.

UNICEF said in a statement Monday that tens of thousands of children remain affected by ongoing floods.

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

At the same time, “UNICEF and the humanitarian community must prepare ourselves for a new reality of climate-related disasters,” Oyewale said.

Afghanistan ranks 15th out of 163 nations in the Children’s Climate Risk Index. This means that not only are climate and environmental shocks and stresses prominent in the country, but children are particularly vulnerable to their effects compared with elsewhere in the world.

Last week, the international charity Save the Children said about 6.5 million children in Afghanistan are forecast to experience crisis levels of hunger in 2024.

Nearly three out of 10 Afghan children will face crisis or emergency levels of hunger this year as the country feels the immediate impact of floods, the long-term effects of drought, and the return of Afghans from neighboring Pakistan and Iran, the group said in a report.

More than 557,000 Afghans have returned from Pakistan since September 2023, after Pakistan began cracking down on foreigners it alleges are in the country illegally, including 1.7 million Afghans.