The bitter cold of Afghanistan’s winter has crippled young children in temporary camps under blankets, while sick babies lie wrapped up in hospitals in their mothers’ all-encompassing farmhouse.
Meanwhile, long queues at food distribution centers have become overwhelming as the country sinks deeper into desperate times.
Since the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15, an already war-torn economy that was once kept alive by international donations alone is now on the verge of collapse. There is not enough money for hospitals.
Saliha, who like many Afghans uses only one name, took her baby son to the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul. Weak and fragile, four-month-old Najeeb was severely malnourished.
For many of Afghanistan’s poorest, bread is their only staple food. Women and children line up outside bakeries before dawn to get bread.
The statistics provided by the United Nations are grim: nearly 24 million people in Afghanistan, about 60 percent of the population, suffer from acute hunger. As many as 8.7 million Afghans are dealing with famine.
The World Health Organization warns of millions of children suffering from malnutrition, and the United Nations says 97 percent of Afghans will soon be living below the poverty line.
The majority scramble to get food and fuel.
For millions who live in camps for displaced persons or sit outside government ministries seeking help, the only source of heat is to crawl around open wood fires.
Nearly 80 percent of Afghanistan’s previous government budget came from the international community. That money, now cut off, was funded by hospitals, schools, factories and government ministries.
Sanctions have paralyzed banks while billions of dollars of Afghanistan’s funds and assets remain frozen abroad. The UN says it is struggling to figure out how to get humanitarian aid to Afghans as they bypass the Taliban government.