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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Afghanistan - Syria

05 Oct 2021


Some 4.5 million people in Syria need urgent assistance to survive the coming winter. © OCHA Syria

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 5 October 2021


Wrapping up a two-day visit to Herat on 5 October, the country representatives from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme (WFP) have sounded the alarm on the dire state of malnutrition and food insecurity sweeping across Afghanistan. The agencies report that without reliable access to water, food and basic health and nutrition services, Afghan children and their families are bearing the brunt of years of conflict and the current economic crisis. 

Some 14 million people in Afghanistan are facing acute food insecurity, and an estimated 3.2 million children under age 5 are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by the end of the year. At least 1 million of these children are at risk of dying due to severe acute malnutrition without immediate treatment.

With winter fast approaching, it is now a race against time to assist Afghan families also lacking access to safe water and health and nutrition services.

The two UN agencies are adding 100 more mobile health and nutrition teams. Already, 168 mobile teams are providing a lifeline for children and mothers in hard-to-reach areas.

Since the beginning of 2021, WFP has provided life-saving food and nutrition assistance to 8.7 million people. More than 210,000 children with severe acute malnutrition have been provided with life-saving treatment through UNICEF-supported services. Ready-to-use therapeutic food for more than 42,000 children and therapeutic milk for 5,200 children were also delivered to UNICEF partners in the past eight weeks.

After a pause in activities, the World Health Organization (WHO)-supported polio programme has resumed screening and vaccination of travellers moving between Afghanistan and Pakistan through the Torkham border point. WHO has also recently dispatched 64 medical kit modules to health facilities in the western region to cover the health needs of 64,000 people over three months. Since August, WHO has airlifted about 185 metric tons of essential medical supplies through nine flights, including Sunday’s shipment.

The Afghanistan Flash Appeal, which requires US$606 million to support 11 million people with humanitarian aid through the end of 2021, has received $212 million (35 per cent funded).


OCHA reports that 5 million people are being affected by the ongoing water crisis in the north and north-east. 

People across the northern parts of the country have been unable to reliably access sufficient and safe water due to low water levels, disruptions to water systems, and the already reduced operational capacity of water stations – including the Alouk water station, which supplies water directly to 500,000 people.

The lack of water impacts a range of needs for a population that is already vulnerable after a decade of conflict, economic crisis and the continued spread of COVID-19. 

Lack of safe drinking water is leading to an increased prevalence of waterborne diseases, and is reducing a critical first line of defence to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of electricity also adds to the strain on public health and education systems, and is disproportionally impacting the general and reproductive health of women and girls. 

The loss of crops and of agricultural livelihoods as a result of poor rainfall, drought like conditions and reduced availability of water for irrigation in the Euphrates, stands to significantly worsen already high food insecurity and malnutrition rates in the region. 

The UN and partners have released a consolidated plan and over the next six months will be targeting 3.4 million of the most-affected people as a result of the current water crisis. 

The plan also outlines longer-term response efforts to more sustainably address the structural causes that have contributed to the water crisis.

The requirements identified for the necessary multi-sector response amount to $251 million, of which only $51 million is funded.

The UN continues to emphasize that access to adequate quantities of water and associated services must not be compromised. There is a human right to water, and it must be respected to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians at risk.