An estimated 72,000 children have arrived in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in recent days after fleeing their homes as violence surges, with many living on the streets, in tarpaulin tents, and going hungry. More are arriving by the hour, Save the Children said.

A Save the Children survey of about 630 families that have arrived in Kabul over the past few days found more than half (324) said they had little or no access to food or other forms of support.

Many families have taken desperate measure to survive, such as selling their belongings to get money for food, sending their children to work, or cutting back severely on food. All of the families said they have run up their debts to get to safety.

Save the Children warned over the possible outbreak of diseases as families are forced to defecate in public.

This is a humanitarian disaster unfolding in front of the world’s eyes

Christopher Nyamandi Country director for Save the Children in Afghanistan

Nyamandi continued: “Families already living in Kabul have brought the food they could spare to help the displaced, but there’s just not enough. And more families are arriving every hour. We will start to see children going hungry or even sliding into malnutrition very soon.”

“The people of Afghanistan not only need the world’s attention, they need the world’s help to get through this. These are families with children, old people. Our staff came across at least 13 pregnant women. We can’t turn our back on them. We need tents, food, clean water, sanitation. Immediately.”

“The only real solution is an end to the fighting, and the warring parties coming to an agreement. But until that time, we need to support the children and their families who have been caught up in this terrible conflict.”

People are drinking water from dirty containers, the circumstances are unhygienic. We’re one step away from a disease outbreak.

What Save the Children is doing

Save the Children has been working in Afghanistan since 1976 to deliver lasting change to the lives of children across the country. We work closely with children, parents, teachers, village councils, religious leaders, government ministries, non-governmental organisations, and other stakeholders. Our programmes focus on education, health and nutrition, child protection, food security and livelihood, and humanitarian response.

In the current circumstances, Save the Children is supporting newly arrived families by supplying blankets and other household items, and will scale up its response based on the findings of the survey.