More than half of Afghans face ‘acute’ food crisis: UN

Published October 26, 2021
This picture shows a man loading a donkey with jerrycans filled with water at the Jar-e-Sakhi Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in in Qala e Naw district of Badghis province. — AFP
This picture shows a man loading a donkey with jerrycans filled with water at the Jar-e-Sakhi Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in in Qala e Naw district of Badghis province. — AFP

KABUL: Afghanistan is on the brink of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, UN agencies warned on Monday, with more than half the country facing “acute” food shortages.

More than 22 million Afghans will suffer food insecurity this winter, they said, as a drought driven by climate change adds to the disruption caused by the Taliban takeover of the country.

“This winter, millions of Afghans will be forced to choose between migration and starvation unless we can step up our life-saving assistance,” said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme.

Millions of people will have to choose between migration and starvation

The crisis is already bigger in scale than the shortages facing war-torn Yemen or Syria, and worse than any food insecurity emergency apart from the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials told AFP.

“Afghanistan is now among the world’s worst humanitarian crises — if not the worst — and food security has all but collapsed,” Beasley said in a statement.

“We are on a countdown to catastrophe and if we don’t act now, we will have a total disaster on our hands.” According to the statement issued by the World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, one in two Afghans faces Phase 3 “crisis” or Phase 4 “emergency” food shortages.

Phase 4 is one step below a famine, and officials said that Afghanistan — already struggling to emerge from a 20-year civil war — is facing its worst winter in a decade.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said: “It is urgent that we act efficiently and effectively to speed up and scale up our delivery in Afghanistan before winter cuts off a large part of the country, with millions of people— including farmers, women, young children and the elderly — going hungry in the freezing winter.”

In August, the hardline Taliban overthrew the US-backed regime and declared an interim government, vowing to restore stability.

But the Taliban still face a range of international sanctions and a campaign of bloody attacks by rival hardliners the Islamic State — while climate change has made Afghanistan’s droughts more frequent and intense.

In the west of the country, thousands of poor families have already sold their flocks and fled, seeking shelter and assistance in packed temporary camps near major cities.

A visit by AFP journalists to the provinces of Herat and Badghis found families forced to sell their daughters into early marriage to cover debts and secure enough food to survive.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Miles to go
Updated 14 Jul, 2024

Miles to go

Some reforms agreed with the Fund are going to seriously impact economic growth and fresh investments, at least in the short term.
Iddat ruling
14 Jul, 2024

Iddat ruling

IT was a needless, despicable spectacle which only ended up uniting both conservatives and progressives in ...
Cricket shake-up
14 Jul, 2024

Cricket shake-up

SOMEONE had to take the blame and bear the brunt of the fallout from Pakistan’s disastrous showing at the T20 ...
Injustice undone
Updated 13 Jul, 2024

Injustice undone

The SC verdict is a stunning reversal of fortunes for a party that was, both before and after general elections, being treated as a defunct entity.
Looming flour shortage
13 Jul, 2024

Looming flour shortage

FOR once, it is hard to argue against the reason that compelled flour mills to call a nationwide strike from...
Same old script
13 Jul, 2024

Same old script

WHEN it comes to the troubling issue of enforced disappearances/ missing persons — either Baloch or belonging to...