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UK charities launch winter appeal for Afghanistan

AT News

KABUL: The UK’s Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is launching a crisis appeal for Afghanistan where millions are on the brink of famine.

Fifteen UK aid agencies – including Oxfam, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief and the British Red Cross – will join together to ask the public to donate.

The DEC warned that the pandemic, conflict and drought in Afghanistan have brought the country to a tipping point and that a million children under the age of five could die this winter.

This is as the UK government is planning to double public donations, up to a total of £10m.

The DEC said eight million people are at risk of starvation, with a rise in severe hunger across the nation. In total, 22 million people – more than half the population – currently do not have enough to eat, it said. Three million children under five are expected to suffer acute malnutrition.

There is an urgency with temperatures falling to as low as -12C (10F) this winter. And the economic crisis has been made worse by the removal of financial support from Western nations after the Taliban seized power in August.

On top of this, the severe drought – the worst in more than 25 years – has ruined much of the country’s wheat crop and sent prices soaring.

Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the DEC, said the situation was already “beyond horrific”.

“We can’t just sit back and watch,” he said. “We can’t just let this happen.”

The growing humanitarian crisis has already led international donors to agree to transfer $280m (£210m) from a frozen fund to UN food and health services in Afghanistan.

Western powers have refused to recognize the Taliban government officially. The US and other nations have frozen about $10bn of Afghan reserves, while the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have also halted the country’s access to funding.

Appeals will be broadcast on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky on Wednesday, as well as on both commercial and BBC radio stations.

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