Afghans weeks away from being cut off from life-saving food supplies

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International aid agencies say they have only weeks to provide food and other life-saving aid to remote provinces of Afghanistan before winter cuts regions for months as the country faces the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is looking to move food to mountainous provinces such as Badakhshan and Nuristan in the next two weeks before snow and plummeting temperatures make transportation prohibitive and expensive.

“We have only a few weeks, not even a month, before humanitarian organizations can reach these provinces before conditions make it impossible,” Necephor Mghendi, IFRC head of Afghanistan told the Financial Times. “There is still a small window of opportunity.”

The IFRC aims to provide food, blankets and other goods to more than 200,000 people across the country before parts of it are largely cut, but the charity has raised only about 15% of its funding goal of 36 million francs (39.4 million dollars) for Afghanistan.

The warning was issued as the country plunges into a worsening humanitarian crisis after the Taliban regained power in August. Foreign aid, which accounted for nearly half of gross domestic product, has stopped since the acquisition of the group, leaving everything from banks to hospitals to food distribution in a state of paralysis and economic crisis.

Liquidity scarcity and widespread poverty have pushed already poor families, weakened by years of drought, to on the brink.

The United Nations World Food Program states that about two-thirds of the Afghan population, some 23 million people, suffer from acute hunger, according to the integrated food security phase classification, used by international organizations to measure food security. Of these, 9 million are facing “emergency” food insecurity.

Mghendi and other aid workers urged countries to resume aid to Afghanistan to help limit the crisis, warning that sanctions or other punitive financial measures against the Taliban risk exacerbating suffering.

The EU said last month that it would provide € 1 billion in aid to Afghanistan and its neighbors and reopen a diplomatic mission in the country. The United States also said it will provide $ 144 million in international aid.

But Mghendi said more needs to be done.

Afghanistan “in my opinion is the most vulnerable [country] in the world right now, ”Mghendi said. “This is a time when [countries] he should gather and provide assistance. If not, there will be a catastrophic situation “.

“The international community must find a balance between sanctioning individuals and sanctioning countries”.

This has filled concerns over a refugee crisis if Afghanistan’s economy continues to deteriorate. The UN says 700,000 Afghans have already been displaced this year due to conflict and insecurity.

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, told the BBC this week that the situation in Afghanistan has become “worse than one can imagine. . . 95% of people do not have enough food. We are now watching 23 million people march towards hunger. “

He added: “The next six months will be catastrophic. It will be hell on earth. “

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