Babies die of malnutrition in Afghanistan as Taliban celebrates one year since takeover

The crisis in Afghanistan is already unimaginable and it is only set to get worse, ITV News' Rageh Omaar reports

In the 12 months since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban on August 15 last year, more than 300,000 children have been admitted to hospital with severe acute malnutrition, with monthly admissions up 90% from 30,000 in June 2021 to 57,000 in June 2022.

For our report to investigate the impact of the UK's departure, our cameras and UNICEF cameras filmed especially for ITV News across the country, and saw a hospital struggling to cope with the number of children being admitted to its wards.

37,000 children have been admitted to hospital with severe acute malnutrition in Afghanistan in the past year. Credit: UNICEF for ITV News

Five-month-old Rana was receiving medical attention due to complications from malnutrition and pneumonia.

She was struggling to breathe and died soon after the team left.

Her mother, Mehnaz, said: "I screamed in the hospital, God she was but a little child."

Many children are being forced to beg alongside their parents. Credit: ITV News

According to Islamic Relief, 97% of Afghans are expected to be in poverty by the end of the year with almost 20 million of its 38 million population regularly going hungry.

Many children are being forced to work and some families are being forced to marry off their daughters in the hope their new family can feed them.

Before the west left, an incredible 75% of Afghanistan's GDP was made up of foreign aid.

Put politics aside and focus on the needs of the children, says UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Dr Mohamed Ayoya 

The UN humanitarian chief for Afghanistan has warned that unless donors provide £2.2 billion very soon the country faces "pure catastrophe" over the coming winter, with millions of lives at stake.

Meanwhile, the Taliban staged small celebrations to mark the anniversary of their takeover.

The Taliban deputy prime minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, offered congratulations to "the entire nation on the day of the conquest of Kabul, which was the beginning of the complete end of the occupation."

In remarks broadcast live by state radio and TV, he boasted of what he described as "great achievements" under the Taliban, such as an alleged end of corruption, improved security and banned poppy cultivation.

But the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has warned that if Afghanistan continues on its current trajectory without help, the current crisis could kill far more Afghans than the past 20 years of war.

Click here to donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Afghanistan Crisis Appeal, a charity made up of 15 UK aid charities that specialises in humanitarian aid and disaster response. Its current appeal aims to help the eight million people in Afghanistan who are at risk of famine this winter.  Or phone 0370 60 60 610.

You can also donate to UNICEF at UNICEF plans to use the funds to treat 1 million children with severe acute malnutrition, as well as vaccinate 10.5 million children against measles and provide safe water to 11.5 million people. The donations will also help to ensure that 7.5 million children have access to education. Or call the dedicated donation line 0300 330 5699.

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