As thousands of Afghan evacuees continue to seek safety in the U.S., Save the Children Trustee and actress Jennifer Garner visited Save the Children’s programs helping support the immediate needs of newly-arrived Afghan children and families at, and just outside of, Dulles International Airport, which serves the Washington, D.C. metro area.
Nearly 30,000 people from Afghanistan have come through Dulles International Airport in recent weeks, of which roughly 40% are children under 12. Save the Children’s programs address the unique needs of children, which are often overlooked in times of crisis. Garner visited programs at Dulles airport, where Save the Children has set up a private space for families with babies to change and nurse them, and is providing families with essentials like diapers, wipes, clean baby clothes and blankets. The organization is also offering children backpacks filled with educational activities, toys and comfort items like stuffed animals.
“These children and families have been through so much—many of the families I spoke with have been in transit for weeks, and are understandably exhausted,” said Garner. “I see Save the Children’s services provide such a sense of relief for the parents, and a sense of joy for the kids.”
Save the Children has also established a safe play and activity area for kids at the temporary shelter where families are brought from the airport. Full of toys and art supplies, and run by staff members who play games and sing songs with the children, the area enables children to build resiliency through play, and begin to express themselves and cope during this scary and stressful time.
“Afghan children have known nothing but conflict their entire lives,” said Garner. “I got to see their beautiful art, sing songs and receive some really big hugs. A world of healing happens for kids in these child-focused play areas. This may be the first time these children have felt safe in months, and the activity space gives them the chance to have fun and just be kids — after all they’ve been through, they desperately need that.”
More than 80,000 children in Afghanistan have fled their homes since the start of June alone amid escalating violence, according to the UN.
Save the Children stands ready to support at other temporary shelters opening up across the country to support refugee children and families, as well as provide essential child-focused items, including hygiene kits, diapers, wipes and COVID-prevention materials.
“Save the Children is deeply concerned about the well-being of Afghan children forced to leave their homes amid violence—it’s critical we get them the support they need to begin to recover,” said Janti Soeripto, Save the Children’s President and CEO, who accompanied Garner on the visit. “We’re committed to making sure Afghan children and their families are protected and provided for as they seek safety in America, and can begin to look toward a brighter future. We’re grateful to our hard-working staff, our incredible partners, and to Jennifer Garner for bringing smiles to children’s faces in our play and activity area.”
Save the Children is the national leader in protecting children in emergencies, and has been helping families in Afghanistan since 1976, including providing health, education, child protection, and nutrition and livelihoods services.
To support Save the Children’s efforts to help Afghan children and families, and how supporters can help, visit: savethechildren.org/Afghanistan.