UN World Food Programme Warns 1 Out Of 3 Afghans At Risk Of Acute Hunger
The combined effects of war and drought linked to global warming have put 1/3rd of Afghanistan at risk of severe or acute hunger, says the UN World Food Programme.Author : A. Gayatri
Afghanistan is currently witnessing a large-scale humanitarian crisis since the surrender of the established government to the Taliban. Along with this, it is also witnessing a severe drought linked to global warming. The combined effect of these two events has put more than one-third of Afghanistan’s population at risk of acute hunger, warned the UN World Food Programme.
This warning comes at a time when the future of the country and its people is uncertain at the hands of the Taliban.
"2021 is an extraordinarily difficult year for Afghanistan," WFP representative and country director Mary-Ellen McGroarty told AFP in a telephone interview from Kabul.
McGroarty warned of a “horrendous humanitarian crisis unfolding” and said she intends to stay in the South Asian nation with WFP “to deliver the much needed humanitarian response that is required”.
In addition to the war-torn country’s fighting and displacement of people, Afghanistan is facing its second severe drought in three years.
"We are in a dire situation, the latest analysis indicates that 14 million people are already at risk of severe or acute hunger," McGroarty added, adding that two million children are at risk of malnutrition.
After the driest periods in almost 30 years, the production of wheat has reduced by 40 per cent.
She explained, ”It's had a devastating impact as well on livestock.”
"As the conflict has escalated right across the country, farmers are unable to harvest the land, they're fleeing from their homes," she said.
There has been extensive damage to civilian infrastructure such as bridges, dams and roads along with the destruction of orchards.
"So, today, when you have the combined impact of the conflict with the drought, food is getting expensive.”
A bag of wheat is now being sold at 24 per cent higher than the five-year average
The current priority of the WFP is to stay and safely assist the Afghan people, said McGroarty.
“Unimpeded humanitarian access” is what the UN’s food-assistance programme aims for, she said.
The WFP hopes to reach nine million people in Afghanistan by the end of the year.
"We have a horrendous humanitarian crisis unfolding, it's essential that we're able to scale operations over the next couple of months."
"In some of the areas where there are new authorities, the Taliban, we have resumed operations, but we need to be doing much, much more, we need to get out there."
The WFP has 480 staff right across Afghanistan, including 440 Afghan nationals.
"Winter is coming," she warned.
"We get severe winters in Afghanistan... many communities are cut off ... so we need to get food stocks into those areas."