Disasters & Accidents

Unicef: 9 million people at risk of famine in Afghanistan

Rome, Jan 18 (EFE).- Nearly the entire population is undernourished and 9 million people are on the cusp of famine in Afghanistan, which is spiraling toward a humanitarian catastrophe, the spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Italy said Tuesday.

“The world can’t sit idly by while there are 9 million desperate people in Afghanistan on the brink of famine. They have nothing now,” Andrea Lacomini said in a statement.

The UN is warning that the country is “rushing headlong toward a humanitarian catastrophe and that hunger could kill more people than decades of war,” he added.

The return to power of the Taliban in August led to a series of economic problems – the freezing of the country’s assets abroad, a halt to international aid, sharply rising prices, a liquidity crisis and cash shortages – that have deprived much of the population of access to food, water, housing and medical care.

Those problems are being compounded by one of the country’s worst droughts in decades.

Around 98 percent of people in Afghanistan are not getting enough to eat, according to Unicef, which says that 24.4 million people – more than half of the population – face potentially life-threatening food insecurity and nine million people are at risk of famine.

“But boys and girls pay the biggest price: 3.9 million are suffering from severe malnutrition, compared with 3.2 million in October 2021. More than 13 million children desperately need aid, an increase of 3.4 million in just one year,” Lacomini said.

The country is facing “one of the most serious crises in history” with a doubling of cases of severe acute malnutrition, the Unicef Italy spokesman said. “And this is just the beginning. In many areas, hospital staff are not receiving a salary and lack essential equipment and medicine.”

“A million children in Afghanistan will die this year of severe acute malnutrition. The hospital beds are overcrowded. Parents are without work, the economy is in ruins and the children go hungry.”

“Many families have no money to feed their children” and “there’s still-unconfirmed evidence of desperate parents who are selling their very young boys and girls, as well as an increase in child labor and early marriages,” the Unicef Italy spokesman said.

The humanitarian crisis is occurring in the depths of winter in Afghanistan.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Unicef Afghanistan said that “as the temperatures plummet to 2 C (35 F), those families who have the least are suffering the most.” EFE


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