The Hunger and Poverty Crisis in Afghanistan More Concern

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UN agencies asked donor countries on Tuesday to allocate $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid by 2022 to Afghanistan, which is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The figure is the largest ever sought for a single country.

Millions of Afghans are at risk of starving to death in the worst drought the country has experienced in decades. The situation was exacerbated by the economic crisis that followed the Taliban’s sudden return to power in August last year.

Governments have responded to the takeover of the Islamist militant group by freezing billions of dollars in Afghan assets abroad and cutting off most international funding for a country that relies on aid to support its nearly 40 million people.

Fatima holds her 4-year-old daughter, Nazia, who suffers from acute malnutrition, at their home near Herat in western Afghanistan, 16 December 2021. (Photo: AP)

Here are some facts about the crisis:

– The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) recorded the level of acute hunger in the country, reaching a new record where about 23 million, or more than half of the country’s population, experienced acute hunger. Meanwhile, nearly nine million other citizens are nearly starving.

– Nearly 1 million children under the age of five are at risk of dying from malnutrition.

– Four-fifths of the country is experiencing severe or severe drought. About 70 percent of Afghans live in rural areas and 85 percent derive their income from agriculture.

– Nearly 3.5 million Afghans were displaced by violence, drought and other disasters, of whom about 700,000 were displaced last year.

– The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has warned that 97 percent of Afghans could fall below the poverty line by mid-2022. While about half of the population lived in poverty before the Taliban took over.

– Annual per capita income fell from $650 in 2012 to $508 in 2020. It is expected to drop to $350 this year.

Large numbers of Afghan children lined up for food.  (Photo: WFP)

Large numbers of Afghan children lined up for food. (Photo: WFP)

– Economists estimate that it would take $2 billion to bring everyone in extreme poverty to the poverty line.

Before the Taliban took over, international aid accounted for 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and about three-quarters of government spending, covering everything from electricity imports to healthcare and teachers’ salaries.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that another $623 million is needed to support Afghan refugees and their host communities in five neighboring countries. [ah/rs]

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