Crisis in Afghanistan may spiral out of control

Wednesday, 2021-10-27 10:20:59
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Afghan refugees set up a makeshift camp at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, August 31, 2021. (Photo: AFP/VNA)
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NDO – The “combined devastation” due to drought, conflict, COVID-19 and the economic crisis has more than half of Afghanistan’s population facing an unprecedented level of hunger. The United Nations warned that without immediate intervention, the crisis in Afghanistan could quickly spiral out of control.

According to a new report released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), the livelihoods and ability to access food for more than 22.8 million Afghan people will be severely affected this winter. According to UN officials, in terms of scale, the current crisis in Afghanistan is more serious than any other emergency food insecurity in the world.

The FAO and WFP estimated that more than one-in-two Afghans will face Phase 3 crisis or Phase 4 emergency levels of acute food insecurity. WFP Executive Director David Beasley stressed that millions of Afghans will face starvation this winter unless urgent action is taken.

Notably, children are the most vulnerable when disaster strikes. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), without emergency treatment, one million children in Afghanistan are at risk of death from acute malnutrition. If the situation of food security does not improve, there will be an additional 3.2 million children under the age of five at risk of acute malnutrition by the end of this year.

For the first time, urban Afghans are experiencing food insecurity to the same extent as rural communities. Massive unemployment and a liquidity crisis have exposed residents of large cities, including the former middle class, to food insecurity at an urgent level.

In rural areas, the severe impact of the second largest drought in the past four years continued to affect the livelihoods of 7.3 million people who depend on agriculture and animal husbandry. In addition to the prolonged drought and the impact of the pandemic, Afghanistan is also facing upheavals within the political transition, making it difficult to deploy humanitarian assistance.

Even more worryingly, the UN’s humanitarian response plan is only guaranteed to support one-third of the current urgent needs in Afghanistan. The head of WFP emphasised that it is impossible to feed people on promises, funding commitments must turn into hard cash, and the international community must come together to address this crisis, which is rapidly spinning out of control.

TRUONG DINH/Translated by NDO