Food aid alone is not enough says international NGO
Almost 10 million children in Afghanistan are going hungry every day due to a dire combination of economic collapse, the impacts of the war in Ukraine and the ongoing drought, new figures released today show.
Immediate food assistance is needed to save lives in the short-term, but aid alone is not enough to tackle the country’s worst hunger crisis on record, Save the Children said.
The figures show that despite a significant amount of food aid reaching families in recent months, 19.7m children and adults – almost 50% of the population – are still going hungry and need urgent support to survive. From March to May alone, 20,000 people were pushed into famine.
When the Taliban took control in August last year, the international community responded largely by freezing assets and suspending development assistance to mitigate the risk of indirectly providing funds to the de-facto Taliban administration.
Afghan children are now bearing the brunt of the international community’s policies, which have starved the country of cash, and sent the economy into a downward spiral. Poverty, unemployment and food prices have dramatically increased, forcing parents to take desperate measures to feed their children.
Save the Children's director of advocacy, Athena Rayburn said:“Every single day our frontline health workers are treating children who are wasting away in front of our eyes because they’re only eating bread once a day – and those are the lucky ones. Children in Afghanistan have never known a life without conflict and if action is not taken soon, they will not know a world without gnawing hunger and empty stomachs. Now is not the time for the world to turn its back on Afghanistan’s children.
“Although 18.9m children and adults are projected to need food aid from June to November this year, there is only enough funding to provide support for 3.2m people. With the world’s attention diverted to Ukraine, there is waning hope of addressing this crisis in time. Each day that passes without the funds needed sees more children lose their lives to preventable causes.
“The international community must address both the gap in funds and Afghanistan’s economic collapse by identifying ways to increase liquidity in the country’s economy. Until the economic crisis is addressed, and rising poverty stemmed, children will continue to face catastrophic levels of hunger. Aid alone cannot save their lives.”
Save the Children said the UK government has shown leadership by co-hosting the recent Afghanistan pledging summit and committing an additional £286 million in funding.
As Afghanistan faces it worst food crisis since records began, it is crucial that this money is dispersed rapidly and effectively in order to prevent further loss of life. The aid agency is calling for the UK to work with other governments to unlock financial assets and address the liquidity crisis, to prevent more and more Afghan families sinking further into poverty and debt.
The crisis in Afghanistan comes at a time when the world is facing its biggest hunger crisis this century, with an estimated 44 million children and adults on the brink of starvation across the globe.