Social Issues

Unicef warns 3.2 million children at risk of malnutrition in Afghanistan

Kabul, Oct 5 (EFE).- Some 3.2 million children under the age of five are at risk of severe malnutrition in Afghanistan by the end of the year as a result of the country’s severe humanitarian crisis, augmented by the Taliban’s takeover of the country, according to the Unicef Tuesday.

“An estimated 3.2 million children under the age of five expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by the end of the year,” said the international agency in a statement.

At least one million of them are at risk of dying if they are not treated immediately, it added.

The organization told EFE that the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, accentuated by the Islamists seizing power, is a result of a “triple crisis” with “drought problems and consequent water shortages, devastating socio-economic consequences of Covid-19 and the arrival of winter.”

According to the UN World Food Program (WFP), 95 percent of households in Afghanistan do not get enough food and adults are forced to skip meals so their children can eat more.

“We have no food at home. We are selling everything to buy food, yet I barely eat anything. I am weak and I don’t have any milk for my child,” said Jahan Bibi, the mother of an 18-month old infant being treated for severe malnutrition at a hospital in eastern city of Herat.

“As more families struggle to put food on the table, the nutritional health of mothers and their children is getting worse by the day,” said Unicef’s Representative in Afghanistan, Herve Ludovic De Lys.

In fact, Unicef warned that the country is facing an outbreak of measles that is spreading rapidly due to displacement caused by war and problems such as drought, which make it difficult to access vaccination.

“Only half of all children under the age of one in Afghanistan have been fully vaccinated against measles. Immunization rates in Afghanistan dropped in 2020 due to Covid-19 related disruptions, escalating violence and insecurity,” Unicef Afghanistan told EFE.

“Unless we intervene now, malnutrition will only become more severe. The international community must release the funds they pledged weeks ago, or the impact could be irreversible,” said WFP Afghanistan Representative and Country Director Mary-Ellen McGroarty.

The UN organized a conference in September to raise humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, and secured pledges of more than a billion dollars in aid.

However, Unicef Afghanistan told EFE that so far only 22 percent of these funds have been received. EFE


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