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The already dire situation faced by Afghan civilians will get worse, and the humanitarian needs of children and women will increase over the coming months, a Unicef official said.

"The situation is critical, and it will only get worse," UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi told reporters at the UN Headquarters in New York, adding that the humanitarian needs will increase amidst "a severe drought and consequent water scarcity, an uncertain security environment, continued displacement, the devastating socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the onset of winter".

Even before the Taliban takeover in August, at least 10 million children across the country were in need of humanitarian assistance to survive, Abdi said, and at least 1 million of these children are at risk of dying due to severe acute malnutrition without immediate treatment, reports Xinhua news agency.

The health system and social services are on the verge of collapse, as medical supplies are running dangerously low, and cases of measles and acute watery diarrhoea are on the rise, Abdi said.

The economic system is also on the verge of collapse, he added, noting many teachers and health workers have not been paid in at least two months, and yet they continue to work.

The official also said that the education gains of the past two decades must be strengthened, not rolled back.

The number of children enrolled in schools increased from 1 million in 2001, most of them boys, to almost 10 million children, including 4 million girls, at present.

The number of schools tripled, from 6,000 to 18,000. Despite this progress, 4.2 million children are out of school, including 2.6 million girls, he noted.

The Unicef, the UN and humanitarian partners are sparing no effort to overcome financial shortfalls, logistical challenges, and an increasingly complex geopolitical situation to support the millions of women, men and children in Afghanistan who depend on humanitarian assistance and protection, the official added.

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