Afghanistan is on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe

Girl looking on among Afghan women Girl looking on among Afghan women Isaak Alexandre Karslian on Unsplash

18 November 2021

Millions of Afghans suffer from acute food insecurity; this might be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, says World Food Programme Director

Afghanistan faces among the world’s worst humanitarian crises, if not the worst – said the World Food Programme (WFP)’s director, David Beasley, in a visit to Kabul. Drought, conflict, Covid-19, and an economic crisis have brought Afghanistan to the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe. The UN reports that more than half of the population suffer acute hunger. UN agencies warn that an estimated 3,2 million children under five will experience acute malnutrition by the end of the year. Conflict and economic crisis have led to lack of access to food, water, and basic health and nutrition services. This situation has worsened even further since the Taliban took power 16 August 2021. 

When the Taliban took control of the country, the international community suspended the aid they were providing to Afghanistan. This cut-off of funds, along with rampant unemployment and a liquidity crisis, threatens even urban centres with acute food insecurity. With the rise of the Taliban regime, many women have been asked to stay home. As a result, many families have lost an important source of income. Furthermore, the country is faced by drought, which has caused poor harvest and rising food prices. The WFP warns that this winter millions of Afghans will be forced either to migrate or starve. 

UNICEF officials report that parents are not eating three meals a day and meal portions are decreasing. Women are not able to breastfeed because they are malnourished themselves. Doctors in Afghan hospitals registered a 50% increase in cases of severe malnutrition. UNICEF is doubling its number of nutrition counsellors and mobile health and nutrition teams. Yet, as winter approaches, the future remains uncertain, and both WFP and UNICEF warn that without life-saving treatments more than one million children are at risk of death. The WFP’s director called on the international community to unblock funds in order to reduce these risks and to address the crisis. 


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Author: Lorena Bisignano; Editor: Alexander Collin

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