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UN warns six million Afghans at risk of famine as crises grow

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Kabul: The UN’s humanitarian chief called on donors to restore funding for economic development and immediately provide $770 million to help Afghans pull through the winter.

Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Monday that Afghanistan faced deepening poverty, with six million people at risk of famine, due to humanitarian, economic, climate and financial crises.

Conflict, poverty, climate shocks and food insecurity “have long been a sad reality” in Afghanistan, but he said what made the current situation “so critical” was the halt to large-scale development aid since the Taliban took over a year ago.

More than half the country’s population — about 24 million people — need assistance and close to 19 million are facing acute levels of food insecurity, Mr Griffiths said.

He said there were concerns that the figures would soon become worse due to winter, which is expected to drive up already high fuel and food prices.

The country’s banking and liquidity crisis, and the extreme difficulty of international financial transactions must also be tackled, he said.

“The consequences of inaction on both the humanitarian and development fronts will be catastrophic and difficult to reverse,” Mr Griffiths warned.

He also added that more than one million children “are estimated to suffer from the most severe and threatening form of malnutrition” and may die without proper treatment.

Griffiths said: “The leadership of the Taliban must also play its role. Interventions and bureaucratic behavior slow down the process of humanitarian aid. “Women aid workers must work unimpeded and protected, and girls must be allowed to continue their education.”

Russian and China’s ambassadors to UN accused the US and its allies of “evading responsibility and abandoning the Afghan people” by cutting off development aid, freezing Afghan assets and imposing “political isolation and blockade”.

This is despite the fact that the Taliban has not been officially recognized by any foreign government and they are still under international sanctions.

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