KABUL (Dispatches) – Ten million children in Afghanistan are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, UNICEF Afghanistan warns as the UN’s World Food Programme seeks $200m in food aid.
Children in Afghanistan already survive on humanitarian assistance and approximately a million are expected to suffer from life-threatening malnutrition this year, according to UNICEF.
David Beasley, executive director of WFP said 14 million people – one-third of the Afghan population – face food insecurity “because of several years of drought, conflict, economic deterioration, compounded by COVID”.
“The number of people marching to starvation has spiked to now 14 million,” David told Reuters on Tuesday, urging political leaders to act quickly and calling the series of events a “perfect storm”.
WFP is hoping to raise $200 million in the next few weeks to feed Afghans through the winter, it reported. The organization is concerned that without additional funding the country may run out of wheat flour by October.
The UN has also warned that the number of COVID-19 vaccinations in Afghanistan has dropped off by 80% since the Taliban completed its takeover with the capture of Kabul less than two weeks ago, citing the chaotic conditions there.
Speaking to Reuters on Wednesday, a UNICEF spokesperson warned that around half of the doses delivered to Afghanistan are nearing their expiry date.
While the spokesman contended that it was vital that these shots were utilized as soon as possible, he noted that there had been a huge drop-off in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines since the Taliban capture of Kabul.
Since the Taliban takeover “there’s been an 80% drop in people reached with COVID-19 vaccines”, the spokesperson asserted, adding that the decline is understandable as the situation on the ground is chaotic.
“People will prioritize their safety and security first,” the spokesperson continued.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday announced the flow of emergency supplies including food into Afghanistan ground to a halt when Hamid Karzai International Airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul closed to commercial flights to facilitate evacuations. It said over 18 million people in the country of roughly 38 million were in need of aid.
“While the main focus over the past days has been major air operations for the evacuation of internationals and vulnerable Afghans, the massive humanitarian needs facing the majority of the population should not - and cannot - be neglected,” WHO wrote in its statement.