A displaced family from Afghanistan. Source: UN News
Afghanistan has been making headlines over the past few decades, most recently with the withdrawal of US troops in 2021, and many Afghani children have been left vulnerable. They are considered to be extremely at risk, a dangerous reality amidst high rates of poverty and child mortality in the country.
Bahaudin Mujtaba on the right with Noman Mujtaba on the left. Source: NBC News
Bahaudin Mujtaba and his wife Lisa were one of the families impacted by the slow adoption process out of Afghanistan. Mujtaba worked on being able to adopt a distant relative of his, 10-year-old Noman Mujtaba, for five years. Noman’s mother passed away from cancer and his brothers and father were not able to care for him. Noman also has health concerns, which his family has noted.
An Afghan girl attending school. Source: UNICEF USA
Afghanistan’s social climate is largely affected by the widespread effects of poverty on the populace. Around 15 million people are living below the poverty line in Afghanistan, which is about half of the population. Poverty restricts access to education; only 60 percent of children are able to go to school and barely 30 percent of adults are literate. There are other disparities when looking at education equity. According to UNICEF, the rates of school attendance indicate that girls are less likely to attend school during their formative years, dropping out of primary school at higher rates.
There are other risks that young Afghani’s encounter, including the exploitation of child labour. Roughly 20 percent of children in Afghanistan are working in some capacity, helping to provide for their households by working as water carriers, shoe polishers, domestic servants, and street vendors, for example. Based on economic insecurity, many families struggle to provide for their children, especially for their health. Afghanistan has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world, with some of the