Sat. Nov 27th, 2021

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

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

“We only have weeks, not even a month, left before humanitarian organizations can reach these provinces before conditions make it impossible,” Necephor Mghendi, the IFRC’s Afghanistan chief, told the Financial Times. “There’s another 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 are largely cut off. But the charity raised just about 15 percent of its SFr36m ($ 39.4M) funding target for Afghanistan.

The warning was made as Afghanistan plunged into a worsening humanitarian crisis after the Taliban regained power in August. The foreign aid that makes up almost half of the gross domestic product has stopped since the group’s takeover, leaving everything from banks to hospitals to food distribution in a state of paralysis and an economic crisis.

Cash shortages and widespread poverty have already plagued poor families, weakened by years of drought, to the edge.

The UN’s World Food Program says about two-thirds of Afghanistan’s population, some 23 million people, face acute hunger, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, which is used by international organizations to measure food security. Of these, 9 million face “emergency” food insecurity.

Mghendi and other aid workers have urged countries to resume aid to Afghanistan to help curb the crisis, warning that sanctions or other punitive financial measures against the Taliban could exacerbate the suffering.

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

But Mghendi said more needs to be done.

Afghanistan “is in my opinion the most vulnerable [country] in the world at the moment, ”Mghendi said. “It is a time when [countries] must contract and provide assistance. If not, then there will be a catastrophic situation. “

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

It has raised concerns about a refugee crisis as Afghanistan’s economy continues to deteriorate. The UN says that 700,000 Afghans have already been displaced by conflict and insecurity this year.

David Beasley, chief executive of the World Food Program, told the BBC this week that the situation in Afghanistan had “become as bad as you can imagine. . . 95 percent of people do not have enough food. Now we are looking at 23 million people who are marching towards famine. ”

He added: “The next six months will be catastrophic. It’s going to be hell on earth. ”

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