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Brutal Afghan winter could cost more children's lives

Press Releases   •   Feb 23, 2012 10:04 GMT

Following reports that at least 28 children living in camps near Kabul have already died because of freezing temperatures, we are warning that even more could children could die from cold in what is Afghanistan's worst winter for 15 years.

Most of the deaths were reported to have been children aged under five - the most vulnerable in such extreme weather. Kabul has been badly affected by the freezing conditions, along with northern and central provinces in Afghanistan since last month.

Temperatures in the central Bamyan province have fallen to -20 to -25°C during the night in Yakawlang, Panjab and Waras districts

Here many children are already severely weakened by malnutrition because of a major food crisis caused by drought and high food prices.

Brutal winter

Bob Grabman, our country director in Afghanistan, said: "This has been a brutal winter and children have little to protect them from the biting cold. Many are trying to survive without decent shelter or blankets, without fuel, food, warm clothes or shoes.

At night the temperature falls dangerously low, threatening the lives of newborns and small children.  It’s crucial we get urgent help to families so children are protected.

"Children are dying because they are already so weakened by malnutrition, and the cold makes them even more vulnerable to fatal diseases such as pneumonia.”

Food crisis

Many children in the north of the country are already struggling to survive on just bread and tea because of a major food crisis that is affecting three million people, one million of them children.

Their parents are no longer able to afford enough food to feed their families, as crops have failed due to poor rains and the price of wheat has increased by nearly 60%.

Our response

To date, Save the Children has reached 2,763 families living in Kabul's informal camps, through the distribution of 2,763 tarpaulins, 28,732 hats, 1,419 blankets.

In Bamyan district we've distributed 300 quilts to cold-affected people and also provided quilts, pillows and mattresses to 639 affected families in Yakawlang district. 

But we continue to need more funds to continue our life-saving work in Afghanistan both in response to the cold and the on-going food crisis.

Please donate what you can to our emergency fund

Save the Children works in 120 countries. We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential. 

Following reports that at least 28 children living in camps near Kabul have already died because of freezing temperatures, we are warning that even more could children could die from cold in what is Afghanistan's worst winter for 15 years. Most of the deaths were reported to have been children aged under five - the most vulnerable in such extreme weather. Kabul has been badly affected...

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Afghanistan: Hope and heroes

Blog posts   •   Feb 21, 2012 10:01 GMT

Doctors and nurses rushed to a bed in Khulm District Hospital as little Ahmadullah fought for his life. Only four days old and ill with neo-natal sepsis — a potentially fatal blood infection — it was going to be touch and go whether he lived. The head doctor immediately referred him to a bigger hospital 60km away in Mazar-i-Sharif, and the nurses placed an oxygen mask over his tiny face to...

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New research exposes the hidden global malnutrition crisis

Press Releases   •   Feb 15, 2012 09:58 GMT

In a wide-ranging survey conducted with some of the world's poorest families, a third of parents revealed that their children complained they didn’t have enough to eat, and one in six said their children were skipping school to work for food, while our new report outlines the pitifully slow progress on global malnutrition rates among children.

The survey, undertaken for Save the Children in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru and Bangladesh - contains a snap-shot of the hardship that families are facing in countries already experiencing high rates of malnutrition.

Chief executive Justin Forsyth, said, “In the past year, nearly a quarter of a billion parents in countries already struggling with malnutrition have cut back on food for their families – this shows the urgent need for greater action.

Our new report, 'A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition', says that rising food prices and lack of global investment in tackling malnutrition, are putting future progress on child mortality at risk.

It warns that if no concerted action is taken, half a billion children will be physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years.

Push on child hunger

Our chief executive, Justin Forsyth, said, “The world has made dramatic progress in reducing child deaths, down from 12 to 7.6 million, but this momentum will stall if we fail to tackle malnutrition.”

Save the Children is now calling on the British government to help lead the biggest push in history to reduce hunger and protect children from food-price spikes.

We're urging David Cameron to kick start this at the Olympics when world leaders will be in London with a world hunger summit to agree and fund concrete action to tackle malnutrition.

We believe that a package of basic measures including breastfeeding and fortifying basic foods with essential minerals or vitamins, would save the lives of 2 million children a year and prevent over 60 million young lives from being blighted by malnutrition.

300 deaths every hour

Malnutrition is the underlying cause of a third of child deaths but it has not received the same high-profile campaigning and investment as other causes of child mortality like HIV/AIDS or malaria.

Whilst the child mortality rate from malaria has been cut by a third since 2000, child malnutrition rates in Africa have decreased by less than 0.3% each year over the same period.

Even before the food price spikes, many of the poorest children were surviving on a sparse, low-cost diet dominated by a basic staple such as white rice, maize or cassava, which have very low nutritional value.

A child who is chronically malnourished can have an IQ of up to 15 points less than a child properly nourished, while we estimate the cost to the global economy of child malnutrition in 2010 alone was nearly £77 billion.

British leadership

Last year Britain showed powerful leadership by galvanising the world to act on vaccines, and helping save four million lives, now it can do the same with hunger.

Justin Forsyth said, "Every hour of every day, 300 children die because of malnutrition, often simply because they don’t have access to the basic, nutritious foods that we take for granted in rich countries.

"By acting on hunger and malnutrition, world leaders have the chance to change this for millions of children across the world."

Save the Children works in 120 countries. We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential. 

In a wide-ranging survey conducted with some of the world's poorest families, a third of parents revealed that their children complained they didn’t have enough to eat, and one in six said their children were skipping school to work for food, while our new report outlines the pitifully slow progress on global malnutrition rates among children.

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Niger: Leading the response

Blog posts   •   Feb 08, 2012 10:12 GMT

I knew there was no time to lose when I received the first reports of a looming food crisis in Niger. Having led our response to the food crisis in 2010, the memories are still fresh in my mind. I know the earlier we respond, the more lives we can save. I’ve worked on emergency responses for over a decade — from the earthquake in Haiti, to civil war in Sierra Leone and the Democratic...

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Save the Children works in 120 countries.

We save children’s lives.

We fight for their rights.

We help them fulfil their potential.