Christina Lamb has written nine books, many of them exploring the impacts of war and displacement on women and girls.
Award-winning author and war correspondent, Christina Lamb, has spoken to Australia for UNHCR about the desperate situation facing women and girls in Afghanistan, appealing for more urgent assistance to save lives right now.
“It's a really devastating situation for women who feel like all the gains of the last 20 years have just been taken away from them overnight,” said Ms Lamb.
The UN Refugee Agency has been working for decades to help Afghans, providing life-saving care for those who have been forced to flee both inside Afghanistan, and to neighbouring countries, because of conflict and other crises.
The impacts on women and girls have been of particular concern.
Assistance has scaled up again since Kabul fell to the Taliban in August last year, but more funds are urgently needed.
Christina Lamb, the Chief Correspondent for the UK’s “The Sunday Times,” has written nine books, many of them exploring the impacts of war and displacement on women and girls.
Ms Lamb co-wrote “I Am Malala: The Girl who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban,” with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Her latest book “Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: What War does to Women” was published in 2020.
“It's a really devastating situation for women who feel like all the gains of the last 20 years have just been taken away from them overnight” - Christina Lamb
“Women have not been able to go to work except for women in medical professions and teachers in primary schools. Pretty much all other women are stuck at home,” said Ms Lamb.
“The other issue is that girls have not been able to go back to high school.”
“And then, of course, in terms of feeding their families … it's usually the women who will go without in order to give what meagre supplies they have to feed their children.”
UNHCR estimates more than 700,000 Afghans were newly displaced inside the country last year, 80 per cent of whom are women and children.
There are now 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees in the world, with another 3.5 million people understood by UNHCR to be internally displaced.
UNHCR is providing emergency shelter, food and water, and cash assistance to people in need.
Tens of thousands of thermal blankets and solar lamps are also being airlifted into the country to help those who have left their homes survive freezing winter conditions.
Another key focus has been on helping children affected by displacement access quality education.
Dozens of education infrastructure projects are being carried out, including the construction of 19 schools, including two girls’ schools, one youth learning centre, and one internet cafe.
Ms Lamb wrote in “The Times” that in her 35 years as a foreign correspondent she had never seen anything of Afghanistan’s magnitude.
“There is no kind of safety net and that’s what makes Afghanistan so dire,” said Ms Lamb.
“What you've got there is a sort of perfect storm of the worst drought for almost 40 years, subzero temperatures, and a country that's already gone through 40 years of war.”
“And then on top of that, you have this complete economic implosion when the Taliban took over and all the foreign aid was withdrawn literally overnight and the foreigners went away taking all the jobs.”
Ms Lamb told Australia for UNHCR it was impossible to overestimate the importance of getting more aid into the country.
“Somebody described it to me as like a patient who is in the middle of having a blood transfusion and the drip suddenly being pulled out.”
“Children are dying now of hunger. Children are dying of malnutrition on the way to hospitals, in hospitals, at homes.”
“What you've got there is a sort of perfect storm of the worst drought for almost 40 years, subzero temperatures, and a country that's already gone through 40 years of war.” - Christina Lamb
Some 80 per cent of nearly a quarter of a million Afghans forced to flee since the end of May are women and children.
UNHCR has provided life-saving support to over 332,000 newly internally displaced persons this year
As temperatures plummet in Afghanistan, millions of people are at risk of famine.
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.