KABUL: Afghanistan is on the brink of mass starvation as more than half the population face acute hunger amid freezing temperatures after nearly four months since the Taliban seized power, with the United Nations World Food Program saying the economy is in a freefall.
The economic crisis and limited availability of cash have created a new class of hungry as urban residents are facing food insecurity at similar rates to rural communities, according to the UN agency. WFP chief David Beasley, who recently visited Afghanistan, said his team is in a “race against time” to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the country.
“What’s happening in Afghanistan is just horrific,” said Beasley. “I met families with no jobs, no cash and no food, mothers who sold one child to feed another, and the lucky children who made it to the hospital. The world cannot turn its back as the Afghan people starve.”
As harsh winter sets in, humanitarian organizations have warned that a million children could lose their lives. The New York Times reported that the food insecurity and impending mass starvation could be potentially damning for the new Taliban government as well the United States which has imposed economic restrictions while it measures the actions of the Sunni Pashtun group.
Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP’s country director for Afghanistan, implored the international community to respond to the “tsunami of hunger”.
“We need to separate the humanitarian imperative from the political discussions,” she said. “The innocent people of Afghanistan, the children…who have 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.”