Kabul, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- Over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are in desperate need of life-saving support, a global humanitarian agency said on Tuesday and called for $3 billion in aid to battle the challenge of saving almost half the population of the war-ravaged country from the brink of starvation.
The nonprofit said Afghans were suffering under a combination of decades-long conflict and poverty, and the coronavirus pandemic had exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the country.
“Millions of people are suffering every day because of conflict, poverty, and now the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a desperately sad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” said Chris Nyamandi, the organization’s Afghanistan country director said in the statement.
He said it was “especially hard on children many of whom have known nothing but violence.”
Citing the latest UN figure, Nyamandi noted that nearly 6,000 Afghans, a third of them children, were killed and injured between January and September last year.
Nyamandi said conflict continued to cause extreme physical and psychological harm, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year.
“The fighting will continue to fuel humanitarian needs this year,” he warned.
It would threaten people’s wellbeing and limit access to essential services like hospitals and clinics as well as humanitarian assistance.
“The schools are closed because of the harsh winter conditions and Covid-19 restrictions and they won’t reopen until March. Meanwhile, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.”
The charity said at least another $3 billion were needed in humanitarian assistance to help the Afghan people in 2021.
“Without it, the humanitarian community will struggle to meet the growing needs of an entire generation of children whose lives have been blighted by conflict.”
Nyamandi explained that the plight of the Afghan people was threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a Geneva-based conference last November.
“Aid to Afghanistan has alarmingly dropped at a time when the humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unenviable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people.”
Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban have been talking peace to bring an end to the decades-long conflict.
The latest round of peace talks began earlier this month in the Qatari capital of Doha. However, the talks have produced little results amid the latest spike in violence across the country.
The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the plight of nearly 40 million Afghans. The virus has infected nearly 55,000 people and claimed 137 Afghan lives.
In 2020, World Bank estimates revealed that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn have led to rapid inflation.
“The added health and economic strains of the pandemic will deepen the humanitarian impact across the country,” said Nyamandi. EFE-EPA