The Afghan children leaving school to work and women forced into begging as Taliban cut jobs

ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar reports on the desperate situation facing many Afghans after the Taliban takeover

Children are leaving school to earn money for their families and women have been forced into begging as the Taliban takeover ushers in a new destitute group in Afghanistan.

ITV News has discovered the desperate situation for many Afghans as the loss of jobs throws families already in poverty into crisis.

The United Nations believes half of Afghanistan's population, 18 million people, are now caught up in the humanitarian crisis engulfing the country.

Children spoke about having to put their dreams on pause as they left school to earn pennies for their families, who are unable to get jobs.

And parents, especially women who are no longer allowed to work, spoke about having to beg on the streets to feed their children.

On Tuesday, leaders of the world’s richest countries met online to try to work out how to help - with the words of the UN’s secretary general ringing in their ears. If we do not act now Afghans will pay a heavy price - and so will the world.

ITV News spoke to children and adults forced out of work by the Taliban, who spoke of what life is like inside the country.

One young boy spoke of his dreams of becoming a doctor but he had to quit school to collect household waste for the past two or three months.

The former schoolboy, who now collects discarded items to sell on, said his father is unemployed due to no work being available.

He pleaded with authorities: "I ask you to please send me to school again. I miss all my classmates and teachers."

He continued: "My dreams are to leave this work and become a doctor to serve my country and help my parents."

Another young waste collector said he aspires to be an engineer but has left school to earn money for his family.

The child, who has been working for the past two months, earns just 50-60AFN a day (less than 50p). He explains no one else in his family is working as there are no jobs.

Another former schoolboy said he left two months ago to collect rubbish to support his jobless parents. He too dreams of becoming an engineer.

A young vegetable seller who had to quit school as his father, a former military worker, lost his job. Credit: ITV News

Another boy told ITV News he had to quit school to sell vegetables in a push cart as his family's situation is "not good".

He said: "My work is very tough. I am coming early in the morning to prepare and clean vegetables."

Although he misses his classmates, he says he feels "very happy" to be supporting his siblings, one of who is just a baby.

The boy's father used to be an officer in the national military, but is now jobless.

The family live in a rented house and are struggling to make ends meet and afford food to eat.

His father, who had hoped his son would become a doctor, said: "I feel extremely guilty for sending my children to work instead of school. This guilt has given me deep depression and my mental health is wrecked.

"This is because I don't have money to send them to school or buy them any stationery. I am forced to send them to work because of our situation."

A child shoe polisher is also begging someone to help him go to school, saying: "I like going to school, if someone helps me I will attend it."

The boy has been working for the past year-and-a-half, earning just 50AFN (41p) per day.

A former cleaner has had to resort to begging after losing her job. Credit: UGC

A former cleaner and mother-of-five who lost her job due to the Taliban takeover has had to resort to begging in the streets.

She said her children who all used to go to school are now "dying of hunger".

She said: "For the past one month, I have been compelled to beg. Begging is very tough because from dawn to dusk, I beg and only earn $1 and my legs and back ache due to tiredness."

She continued: "My job was very easy and now it’s very tough. I want my children to attend school and become teachers or doctors."

A mum begging in the streets to feed her children Credit: UGC

A former kitchen worker also spoke about being unable to feed her children after losing her job.

She said: "I beg all day and can only muster a meager $0.60 to buy food for my children.

"Without a job life is very difficult for me as compared to the past, earning money is very hard. There is no salary and money."

A former military worker who lost his job in the Taliban has to beg on the streets. Credit: UGC

A former military worker who lost his job in the Taliban takeover now also has to beg on the streets.

He said: "Our financial situation is not good and therefore we have to beg. We have no food to eat and no clothes to wear.

"As a young man, I feel ashamed when I beg and ask for money on the streets and it is extremely evil and people are trying to make fun of me.

"Buying necessary household items is significantly expensive compared to the past.

"A 50 kg sack of flour previously used to be $20 but now it's $30. We are facing extremely difficult conditions."

Unicef told ITV it wants the world to not avert their eyes from the children of Afghanistan

In a statement António Guterres, the United Nations' secretary general, said the UN estimates that half Afghanistan's population - some 18 million people - have been caught up in the humanitarian crisis engulfing the conflict-ridden country.

He said the body has risen to the enormous logistical challenges of delivering food to millions of people and providing healthcare, water, warm clothes and hygiene kits to those most in need.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Credit: AP

"UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs in Afghanistan are in a race against time to deliver life-saving aid to crisis-affected people and pre-position supplies ahead of winter," the statement read.

"They won’t let up."

But he warned that Afghanistan is at serious risk of financial collapse without global intervention, as international development aid has dried up and banks and other essential services are closing.

The secretary general added that the country's economy is heavily reliant on women, who he said have faced an erosion of rights under the Taliban's new leadership.

"This is a make or break moment," Mr Guterres continued.

"If we do not act and help Afghans weather this storm, and do it soon, not only they but all the world will pay a heavy price."

Indrika Ratwatte, the UNHCR's Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, told ITV News the situation could add to the refugee crisis.

"If we do not scale up dramatically as we are trying to do - people will lose the little hope they have and move. And when they move it becomes a refugee crisis and another whole set of challenges in the region and beyond."

The comments came after the convening of an emergency G20 summit in Italy on Tuesday, with the group of 20 major economies making commitments to alleviate the crisis.

Much of the aid effort will be channeled through the United Nations.