Humanitarian crisis deepen in Afghanistan as millions face food insecurity

KABUL (SW) – The World Food Programme (WFP) in Afghanistan has reported the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan with a massive funding shortfall leading to the suspension of food assistance to 10 million people in 2023.

Without immediate action, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is poised to worsen, leaving millions more vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition. That is 10 million stories, hopes, and dreams like Tahera’s, whose family relied on WFP assistance for sustenance, narrated the dire circumstances they face daily to meet basic needs.

With only her mother working to provide for the family, Tahera told WFP, “If she earns money that day, we eat otherwise, we just wait. My brother used to cry for bread.”

Tahera added that if they had a piece of bread, that is all they would have to eat, otherwise they go to sleep hungry.

She told WFP, “The assistance was good for us, at least we could eat. We do not know what to do now after we were cut from assistance, we felt miserable.”

Tahera left school in order to take care of her disabled brother, “if he does not eat or take his medicine, his situation gets worse,” she said.

The impact is particularly severe on vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant/lactating women.

Women and children awaited treatment at a World Food Program-supported health clinic in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in October. Credit: Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

According to WFP, after the assistance cuts last year, there has been a rise in children’s admissions to malnutrition clinics in Afghanistan.

In video shared on X, Mona Shaikh, Head of Nutrition at WFP, said “We see both women and children who are malnourished, and they receive treatment for their condition. Last year, we were expecting around 800,000 women around the country who are pregnant and lactating, and are malnourished. However, we exceeded that number that we saw in the clinics, so we reached 1.2 million and this year, we are expecting even higher number unfortunately.”

As for the children, Mona Shaikh added it is estimated that 3 million children will be malnourished in Afghanistan in 2024. However, “we will be able to reach just about 1.6 million of those. WFP already had to cut down our critical food rations to the families”, that is going to translate into more malnutrition.

According to WFP, more than half of Afghanistan’s population, approximately 23.7 million people, require humanitarian assistance this year.

The situation is compounded by acute food insecurity, with nearly 40% of the population facing crisis levels of hunger.

WFP has issued an urgent appeal for $657 million to sustain its operations over the next six months.