Afghanistan: 3.5 million people at risk of starvation, warns UNHCR

View of Kabul, Afghanistan View of Kabul, Afghanistan Sohaib Ghyasi on Unsplash

3 December 2021

Throughout 2021, the UNHCR has provided humanitarian aid to approximately 700,000 displaced people across the country, but more help is urgently needed

Approximately 3.5 million Afghans are displaced due to the conflict, 700,000 of which from 2021 alone. As winter arrives, with temperatures expected to drop to -25C, avoiding starvation “is an immediate priority”, said the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Babar Baloch. Alongside the UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP) has recently urged other countries to put politics aside and take action to avoid a potential catastrophe.

According to Mr. Baloch, nearly 55 percent of Afghanistan’s population is suffering extreme hunger, with many of them at risk of famine. It is estimated that about 23 million people require urgent food assistance, including more than three million children who are facing hunger and malnutrition. Across the country, hospitals are on the brink of collapse. As many health facilities are located in remote areas, which gravely ill people struggle to reach, seeking treatments paradoxically turns out to be an unsafe undertaking. 

The UNHCR is launching a global fundraising campaign to help forcibly displaced families - who lack proper insulated shelters, warm clothes, food, fuel for heating, and medical supplies - to cope with the harsh winter months. In November 2021, the United Nations (UN) succeeded in donating $15m directly to the country's health system, bypassing the Taliban in order to prevent the aid from being misused. Other international donors, though with a relatively small amount for now, are trying to follow suit.

About 700,000 Afghan people have already received humanitarian aid, and nearly 60,000 others are weekly assisted. Afghanistan is now facing one of the worst global humanitarian crises, and the hope is that UN and other international donors’ intervention will avoid millions of people having to choose between migration and starvation. In the meantime, other flights delivering relief supplies are scheduled for the next few days.


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Author: Antonella Candiago; Editor: Xavier Atkins



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