WPF: 24 Million Afghans Facing Acute Hunger

The World Food Program (WFP) said its assessments show that almost 24 million people are facing acute hunger–including 8.7 million in a current state of emergency.

The WFP in its report on November 8 said the combination of drought and economic meltdown caused the Afghan families to suffer from hunger ahead of the cold weather.

Officials of the WFP in Afghanistan said the office is attempting to provide humanitarian aid to 24 million Afghans across the country.

The combined impacts of drought, conflict, COVID-19 and the economic crisis, have severely affected lives, livelihoods, and people’s access to food. The report’s findings come as Afghanistan’s harsh winter looms, threatening to cut off areas of the country where families desperately depend on humanitarian assistance to survive the freezing winter months.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report has found that more than one in two Afghans will be facing crisis (IPC Phase 3) or emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of acute food insecurity through the November 2021 to March 2022 lean season, requiring urgent humanitarian interventions to meet basic food needs, protect livelihoods and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

The report also notes that this is the highest number of acutely food insecure people ever recorded in the ten years the UN has been conducting IPC analyses in Afghanistan. Globally, Afghanistan is home to one of the largest number of people in acute food insecurity in both absolute and relative terms

“It is urgent that we act efficiently and effectively to speed up and scale up our delivery in Afghanistan before winter cuts off a large part of the country, with millions of people – including farmers, women, young children and the elderly – going hungry in the freezing winter. It is a matter of life or death. We cannot wait and see humanitarian disasters unfolding in front of us – it is unacceptable!” said QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General.

“Afghanistan is now among the world’s worst humanitarian crises – if not the worst – and food security has all but collapsed. 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. We are on a countdown to catastrophe and if we don’t act now, we will have a total disaster on our hands,” said David Beasley, WFP Executive Director.

“Hunger is rising and children are dying. We can’t feed people on promises – funding commitments must turn into hard cash, and the international community must come together to address this crisis, which is fast spinning out of control,” Beasley warned.

Current funding a drop in the ocean

FAO and WFP have been alerting the world to huge funding shortfalls and the need for urgent action by the international community before it is too late. Immediate financial support is now crucial to meet the most basic humanitarian needs as Afghans confront winter with no jobs, cash, or prospects, just as another La Niña event is on the horizon, meaning this year’s drought conditions are likely to extend into 2022.

To meet the scale of needs, the UN will need to mobilize resources at unprecedented levels. The UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan remains only a third funded. WFP in planning to ramp up its humanitarian assistance as we enter 2022 to meet the food and nutrition needs of almost 23 million people in Afghanistan. To meet the task at hand WFP may require as much as US$ 220 million per month.

Since the beginning of 2021, WFP has provided food, cash, and nutrition assistance to 10.3 million people, including malnutrition treatment and prevention programmes for nearly 400 000 pregnant and breastfeeding women, and 790 000 children under-five.

Gul Uzar, a mother of six children living in a tent, said she is not able to provide food for her children. “My children are searching for food door-to-door, they find nothing most days. We are living in desperation; it is a critical situation here,”.

The officials of the Islamic Emirate said the government, in cooperation with supporting agencies, is working on a plan to prevent the humanitarian crisis in the country.

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