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WFP faces funding crisis in Afghanistan, October deadline looms

AT News

KABUL: The World Food Programme (WFP) is facing a dire financial situation in Afghanistan, with funds expected to run out by the end of October, as reported by Reuters.

The country director of WFP, Hsiao-Wei Lee, expressed concern over the diminishing food assistance, emphasizing the urgency of the situation. Already this year, the WFP has reduced rations and cash aid for 8 million Afghans, highlighting the severe financial challenges faced by aid agencies in the midst of Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis, considered the worst in the world by the United Nations.

According to Hsiao-Wei Lee, the WFP Afghanistan Country Director, the current projections indicate that they will be able to serve an additional two months’ worth of assistance to five million people. However, beyond that timeframe, the WFP lacks the necessary resources to continue their aid efforts. This emphasizes the urgency of the situation.

The anticipated reduction in aid would commence in August, further decrease in September, and come to a halt in October based on the WFP’s estimates of available funds and promised financial assistance from donor countries in the coming months. Donors have already withheld funding, leading the United Nations to scale back its humanitarian funding request. While competing global crises and strained government budgets contribute to this delay, the Taliban’s restrictions on women have exacerbated the decline in funding, according to international officials. Advocates argue that these restrictions hinder the participation of Afghan female humanitarian staff, unless they obtain exemptions from local authorities.

Approximately 15 million vulnerable Afghans are in desperate need of food assistance, according to the WFP. To provide food aid and carry out planned projects until March, the WFP requires $1 billion in funding, as stated by Lee.

Despite the projected cuts, Lee affirmed that the WFP would remain in Afghanistan and continue its other initiatives, such as nutrition projects. She acknowledged the concerns raised by donors regarding the restrictions on women but emphasized that women and girls constituted about half of the WFP’s beneficiaries and they were still able to reach them.

Moreover, Lee stressed the need to complete the positioning of food supplies for the harsh winter months in Afghanistan by October, requiring slightly over $100 million to execute. Certain regions of mountainous Afghanistan become inaccessible due to snowfall during the colder months.

Presently, the WFP lacks the funds for this operation and faces the imminent decision of whether to commence reducing rations earlier than initially projected in order to ensure the timely delivery of food supplies. Lee acknowledged the emotional and challenging conversations that arise from these circumstances, particularly for the field staff who must explain why assistance needs to be curtailed.

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