ISLAMABAD: As winter sets in, the World Food Programme (WFP) in Afghanistan has warned that it is critically underfunded and won’t be able to continue its support for families arriving from Pak­istan with nothing but a few basic morsels.

WFP Afghanistan Country Director Hsiao-Wei Lee said in a statement that WFP was forced to cut 10 million people from its emergency food assistance and can now only support one in five of those in need of support to survive.

“The situation is particularly dire as the harsh winter is only weeks away and the country is still reeling from devastating earthquakes, a battered economy and a worsening climate crisis,” Lee said.

Most families crossing the border are arriving hungry, desperate and in need of immediate support. The WFP continues to supply all arriving families with fortified biscuits and cash to buy food or other basic necessities, adding that it has assisted 250,000 people in November.

“We urgently need $27.5 million to support one million retu­rnees from Pakistan arriving in Afghanistan and help them get through the winter.”

“These families arrive at the worst of times and face a bleak future in a country where one third of the people do not know where their next meal will come from,” he said.

The UN agency says 1.3 million undocumented Af­­g­­hans live in Pakistan. Around 720,000 undocumented ind­­ividuals and 50,000 opting for voluntary repatriation are expected to require support at border points till July 2024. The surge in return in recent weeks, the WFP says, is putting pressure on its strained resources.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2023

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