25 Oct 2021, 14:09

More than half of Afghans face 'acute' food crisis: UN agencies

 KABUL, Oct 25, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - More than 22 million Afghans will suffer
"acute food insecurity" this winter, UN agencies said Monday, warning the
already unstable country faces one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

   "This winter, millions of Afghans will be forced to choose between
migration and starvation unless we can step up our life-saving assistance,"
said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme.

   The crisis is already bigger in scale than that facing Yemen or Syria, and
worse than any food insecurity emergency apart from the Democratic Republic
of Congo, officials told AFP.

   "Afghanistan is now among the world's worst humanitarian crises -- if not
the worst -- and food security has all but collapsed," Beasley said in a

   "We are on a countdown to catastrophe and if we don't act now, we will
have a total disaster on our hands."

   According to the statement issued by the World Food Programme and the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization, one in two Afghans faces Phase 3 "crisis"
or Phase 4 "emergency" food shortages.

   Phase 4 is one step below a famine, and officials told AFP that
Afghanistan -- already struggling to emerge from a 20-year civil war -- is
facing its worst winter in a decade.

   In August, the hardline Islamist Taliban overthrew the US-backed regime
and declared an interim government, vowing to restore stability.

   But the Taliban still face a range of international sanctions and a
campaign of bloody attacks by rival hardliners the Islamic State -- while
climate change has made Afghanistan's droughts more frequent and intense.

   In the west of the country, thousands of poor families have already sold
their flocks and fled, seeking shelter and assistance in packed temporary
camps near major cities.

   Asked about the humanitarian crisis, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid
told AFP on Sunday: "We are trying to get our people out of the current
situation and help them. Global humanitarian aid has also arrived."

   "We are trying to arrange and distribute, including food and clothing. All
worries will be resolved," he promised.

   "Regarding the drought, we hope to have a wet winter. But if the drought
continues we will take appropriate measures in the spring."

   The UN agencies warned that their humanitarian response plan is only a
third funded as it stands.

   The FAO is seeking $11.4 million in urgent funding and a further $200
million for the agricultural season into 2022.

   "Hunger is rising and children are dying. We can't feed people on promises
-- funding commitments must turn into hard cash," Beasley said.

   "The international community must come together to address this crisis,
which is fast spinning out of control."




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