Prior to the start of COTM I, Afghans were the second-largest group among migrants seeking international protection in Europe. The severe security situation in Afghanistan was a major factor driving migration. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported that 2016 saw the highest number of civilian casualties, with around 11,400 conflict-related civilian casualties, including many children. This conflict escalation led to a 13% increase in humanitarian needs in 2017, affecting 9.3 million people, as stated in the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan 2017.

Additionally, the persistence of the poliovirus in Afghanistan remained a significant concern. In May 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the international spread of poliovirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Despite efforts, polio eradication in Afghanistan faced numerous challenges, including the ban on house-to-house vaccination drives by anti-government factions starting in May 2018, which left 3.4 million children unvaccinated during National Immunisation Days. Afghanistan remained one of the three polio-endemic countries, alongside Pakistan and Nigeria, posing a global risk of polio importation.

For the past forty years, Iran has hosted one of the world's largest refugee populations. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran (GIRI) has implemented inclusive refugee policies. However, worsening economic conditions have severely impacted Afghans, particularly those already financially vulnerable. Economic reforms, such as subsidy removal, have disproportionately affected Afghans. Despite accessible education and primary healthcare, refugees face significant obstacles, including limited school capacity, financial constraints, and fear of deportation among undocumented Afghans.

The intervention ‘Afghan Children on the Move - A Framework for Action to Protect Children in Iran and Afghanistan’ (COTM I) addresses these challenges. It is implemented by UNICEF Afghanistan Country Office, UNICEF Iran Country Office, and WHO Afghanistan to support the needs of Afghan children on the move.