KABUL: With millions in Afghanistan facing starvation as winter arrives, the World Food Programme on Thursday urged countries to put politics aside and step up support to avert a potential catastrophe.
WFP is seeking $2.6 billion for its operations in Afghanistan over the coming year.
“On the ground in Afghanistan, working tirelessly to meet the most pressing needs of the Afghan people. WFP needs $2.6 billion to ramp up our life-saving support to reach 24 million people in 2022. The task is mammoth, so is our determination,” said the UN agency in a tweet.
Humanitarian needs in Afghanistan have increased, the UN agency said, with all 34 provinces facing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity.
As a result, some 23 million Afghans require urgent food assistance, a figure never seen before. This includes more than three million children who are at risk of severe hunger and the life-threatening consequences of malnutrition.
“The international community have very real concerns and at this time we need to separate the humanitarian imperative from the political discussions,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP’s Afghanistan Country Director.
“The people of Afghanistan, the innocent people of Afghanistan, the children of Afghanistan who have had their lives upended through no fault of their own, cannot be condemned to hunger and starvation just because of the lottery of geopolitics and the lottery of birth.”
Visits to remote areas of the country have revealed the plight of citizens coping amid the impacts of a prolonged drought, economic collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic, coming on top of years of conflict, which culminated in the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August.
The rising cost of wheat has led to an 80 per cent increase in the price of bread, a staple for many families.
In some areas, people are compensating by consuming a variety of wheat that has been known to cause neurological problems. Many are surviving on bread and tea with milk, sometimes even using a non-nutritional whitener when they can’t afford the real thing.
Meanwhile, economic collapse has left many jobless and unable to buy food for their families.