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Food security

Afghanistan faces the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

by Jörg Döbereiner

In brief

Afghanistan is on the brink of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) warns. According to the WFP, the country’s food crisis currently looks worse than what is happening in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

This alarming assessment is based on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report. It was issued in October in a joint effort of the WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The authors state that in September and October 2021, nearly 19 million people in Afghanistan experienced high levels of acute food insecurity. They expect this number to rise to 22.8 million in the months November 2021 to March 2022. More than half of the country’s people thus face hunger – including 3.2 million children under five, many of whom will suffer acute malnutrition by the end of this year. People all over the country are affected, including in urban areas.

Afghanistan has experienced two severe droughts in four years. The current impact on crops and livestock is significant. Food prices are rising fast. The country’s economy depended heavily on foreign aid before the Taliban seized power in Summer 2021, and things have been deteriorating since. Public services have collapsed, and so has the financial system. Unemployment is getting worse, and Covid-19 has exacerbated all other problems.

One year ago, Afghanistan already had 3.5 million internally displaced persons (IDP). They are a particularly vulnerable group. The UN reckons that at least 660,000 more people were displaced in the months January to September this year. (One of the many Afghans that fled their country is a journalist who currently lives in Cologne, Germany. Read his story on our D+C/E+Z platform)

The WFP has so far provided emergency aid to around four million Afghans in September and plans to feed nine million in December. It needs more funding, however, and is thus calling on the international community to scale up humanitarian assistance and to resume food trade with Afghanistan. WFP´s Executive Director David Beasley: “This winter, millions of Afghans will be forced to choose between migration and starvation unless we can step up our life-saving assistance, and unless the economy can be resuscitated.”

UN’s World Food Programme

Jörg Döbereiner is a member of the editorial team of D+C Development and Cooperation/E+Z Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit.
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