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Editorial: Looming human catastrophe

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 is increasing rapidly in Afghanistan in spite of the fact that the government has enforced lockdowns in major cities. The current staggering tally in the country hovers around 2,469 positive cases, with 72 deaths and 310 recovery cases from the disease so far. However, the catastrophic fallout of the lockdowns and coronavirus pandemic is the sudden hike in food prices. According to a recent report by Save the Children, a third of the population – including 7.3 million children – are at the risk of facing a food shortage and hunger in May due to the soaring food prices. This comes is earlier there have been consistent calls and urged from the needy and impoverished segments of the society that the virus wouldn’t be as deadly as the starvation in Afghanistan. And now such a situation is in the making and realization. The Pentagon watchdog SIGAR also confirms the coronavirus pandemic could trigger a disaster in Afghanistan in the coming months. This is because the rising food prices might worsen the situation given the closure of border crossings and impediments to commercial and humanitarian deliveries – all due to breakdown in supply lines. On the other hand, the Afghan government seems to be somewhat trying to reach out to poor segments of the society and stretch a helping hand to them. It has started an initiative to distribute free bread among less fortunate people. Nonetheless, this food aid isn’t sufficient to meet the needs of all impoverished people. Besides, the hike in food commodities is a phenomenon that further degenerates the situation for destitute people because it makes it hard for them to feed themselves at a time when Afghan children and people need adequate daily nutrition to help strengthen their immune systems to fight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s without a doubt that death from starvation is not unforeseeable in Afghanistan as a storm of hunger looms. At this juncture, the world must take action to assist Afghanistan in these dire circumstances and thus ensure vulnerable children and their families have enough to eat. The Afghan government should focus on continuing the rapid distribution of food, as well as hard cash, to needy people. Otherwise, if these horrid alarms go unheeded, we would soon witness a human catastrophe, and then coping with such a situation would be difficult as providing aid would be too little, too late then.  

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