The consequences of Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan

by ANKASAM Ekip
Kenan AĞAZADE

Humanitarian workers are racing against time to deliver humanitarian aid as harsh winter looms in Afghanistan, UN officials told DW that the situation on the ground is already desperate and “looks like it’s going to get worse.” According to the UN, 20% of Afghanistan’s 38 million people are already near-famine — with children, particularly at top risk.

Aljazeera also confirms that millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken to pull Afghanistan back from the brink of collapse, a senior United Nations official has warned, calling for frozen funds to be freed for humanitarian efforts.

On the other side, Financial Times provides information that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is trying to move food to mountainous provinces such as Badakhshan and Nuristan in the next two weeks before snow and plunging temperatures make transport prohibitively difficult and expensive.

Thus, rising hunger and stalled aid deliveries are creating a “fast unravelling crisis” in Afghanistan, UNICEF warned on Tuesday. Around half of the country — 23 million people — are in need of aid, so the scale is extraordinary and it’s a fast unravelling crisis to all, Samantha Mort, the chief of communications for UNICEF Afghanistan, told DW in an interview. Aid agencies, including UNICEF, are racing against time to deliver aid before the onset of winter. UNICEF is bringing in aid through chartered flights and through the border with Pakistan so we’re getting aid in, but every day it’s getting colder, she said. There’s snow already in the mountains, rural areas are being cut off and it’s really a race against time to pre-position those supplies before they’re inaccessible,” she stressed.

The humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan

Furthermore, last week, the UN’s special representative for Afghanistan warned that the country is “on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe,” with 22% of the population of 38 million already near-famine and another 36% facing acute food insecurity — hunger on a daily basis — mainly because people cannot afford food.

In addition, poverty levels are off the charts and that means that families are being forced to make desperate decisions, Mort said, adding that parents must take children out of school and make them work. Families are being forced to exchange children for dowries in early marriage. We’re seeing higher rates of child recruitment by armed groups, so children are extremely vulnerable,” she added.

Peter Maurer argues that the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said last week that aid groups are struggling to pay doctors, nurses and others on the ground because there is currently no way to transfer salaries to bank accounts in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s economy is estimated to have contracted by 40% since the Taliban took control in August. The UN has warned that the country’s collapsing economy is also increasing the risk of extremism.

Richard Trenchard says also that the representative for the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization in Afghanistan has warned that the situation in the country is “desperate.” Afghanistan experiences the largest humanitarian appeal in its history. What’s really worrying us is that it looks like it’s going to get worse, he told DW, adding that acute hunger has spread from rural areas to nine out of 10 of Afghanistan’s largest cities. Next year I think the humanitarian community here will be asking for well over $4 billion [€3.6 billion] — that would be the largest humanitarian appeal, I think, in the history of any country, he said.

Moreover, the World Food Programme (WFP) said via a press release: “We cannot allow Afghanistan to be a collective failure – the international community must prevent the crisis from becoming a catastrophe.”

Finally, aid groups are urging countries, concerned about human rights under the Taliban, to engage with the new rulers to prevent a collapse they say could trigger a migration crisis similar to the 2015 exodus from Syria that shook European countries.

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