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History of Afghanistan

More information on the history and background of the conflicts in Afghanistan.


After 40 years of violent conflict, food insecurity, droughts, earthquakes and poverty, Afghani children and families now face one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. 3.5 million people are currently displaced within the country, and parents face unimaginable decisions that mean their children may have to work from a young age; or are forced into early marriage to help their family survive.  

These devastating conditions pose serious risks to the education, physical and mental wellbeing of children living in Afghanistan. Since the fall of the western-supported government, the future of many young girls is now also particularly at risk and natural disasters like earthquakes that have taken place are only worsening the situation for families experiencing extreme hardship.  

Today, it is estimated that 24.4 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan with 12.9 million of those being children. 

What is the population in Afghanistan? 
40 million  

What are the most common spoken languages in Afghanistan?  
Pashto and Dari 

What is the capital city of Afghanistan? 

Map of Afghanistan and Where We Work

*Red pins show areas where we work. 

Afghanistan Today  

In 2021, a long-standing rebellion by armed groups across the country intensified, resulting in heightened violence, conflict, and displacement of vulnerable Afghani people. This culminated in the fall of the Western-supported Kabul government in August 2021 and takeover of the country by the Taliban regime, causing the most dramatic shift in context  Afghanistan had seen for a generation.  

The economic crisis that followed has pushed millions of struggling families to the brink of famine. The new context has left families, particularly women and children, in dangerous conditions. With 3.7 million children currently out of school, the rights and safety of boys and girls across the country are under constant threat. Families are now living in extreme poverty and many children are facing malnutrition, as well as physical and mental trauma from the recent conflict. To complicate things further, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake and floods in most provinces recently struck Afghanistan leaving thousands injured, and exacerbating the already dire situation. 

History of Afghanistan

Brief historical summary of key events.


Period from 1996 - 2001

Armed groups seize control of Kabul and enforce new anti-democratic reforms. US launch airstrike on Osama Bin Laden. UN imposes sanctions and embargo.



9/11 attack prompts US to bomb Afghanistan. New interim government established in Afghanistan. 



War Child set up operations to provide urgent assistance to children and families.


Period from 2010 - 2011

Agreement for US troops to withdraw by 2014 is signed.



Armed groups target foreign civilians with suicide bombs. Presidential election falls apart when claims of fraud are exposed. End of US and UK operations, following NATO formally ending 13 years of combat, however mass violence ensues. Ashrag Ghani elected president in Afghanistan.



NATO introduces “Resolute Support” mission to help train Afghan security forces until 2016. Armed groups begin to re-emerge in eastern Afghanistan. Armed group representatives and Afghani government officials hold peace talks, yet armed groups continue to fight unless foreign troops leave. Simultaneously, US announce that troops will remain until 2016.


Period from 2017 - 2019

Rise in armed group violence. Donald Trump sends in more troops despite agreement to stop. Bombing by armed groups continues. Peace talks between armed groups and US breakdown.



As US troops withdraw, armed groups intensifies and takes control of the country.

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War Child colleagues work hard to keep children safe, equipping them with skills for their future. If you believe that children’s lives should not be torn apart by war, we’d love to hear from you.