Afghanistan is on the brink of mass starvation as winter sets in and the social and economic crisis deepen. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking at a conference in Geneva, warned that: “after decades of war, suffering and insecurity, they face perhaps their most perilous hour.”
The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has been exacerbated following the fall of the Islamic republic and the rise of the Taliban regime. Unemployment has been increasing since 2016 and is now worsening after the fall of the Afghan government, as Afghans face cash shortages with banks not allowing withdrawals of more than 20,000 Afghanis ($232) per person.
Hundreds of jobless and cashless Afghans have had to resort to selling their assets to make ends meet in the void caused by the regime transition in Afghanistan.
International aid has been cut off after the Taliban’s rise, and now thousands of institutions trying to resume their functions have been left without funds to finance their operation and pay their officials. The Afghan economy came to depend as much as 50 percent on such international aid.
The United States also blocked access to nearly $9 billion held by the former Afghan government in foreign accounts, while the International Monetary Fund denied the Taliban regime access to the country’s emergency fund of more than $450 million.
In the face of the uncertainty facing Afghans, Guterres has called for more than $1 billion in international aid to be sent to Afghanistan to keep its people from starving, but the international community has yet to find a way to send resources to the country ruled by the Taliban regime, notorious for its brutality and repeated human rights violations.
More than one million children in Afghanistan are at risk of starvation according to UNICEF
According to The New York Times, the price of basic goods such as flour has doubled in a few weeks, while millions of people find protein such as chicken and meat a luxury during the economic uncertainty surrounding the country.
The Afghan healthcare system is on the verge of collapse, while hospital supplies and medicines are in shortage, hospitals are facing serious difficulties in paying their staff.
Like the rest of its economy, most of the resources for Afghanistan’s hospital system came from international aid, but with the arrival of the Taliban, the World Bank and other organizations have cut nearly $600 million in international aid that was intended to fund the Afghan health system.
Afghan children are among the main victims of the economic and social crisis facing the country. According to UNICEF Director Henrietta H. Fore, more than 10 million children in Afghanistan depend on humanitarian aid to survive; Fore predicts that “at least one million children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year and could die without treatment.”
Afghanistan was in a food crisis even before the Taliban took control, but after their arrival and with the end of international aid the crisis is intensifying.
The United States has earmarked $64 million for food and humanitarian aid, however, this donation is far from enough. Even if the UN could muster sufficient resources to provide the required humanitarian aid to the Afghans, international agencies have no guarantee of security for aid workers because of the threat posed by Taliban forces.