Some 10 million children in war-torn Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said, appealing for billions in new funds for aid.
Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are in dire need of life-saving assistance, including food, Save the Children said in a statement on Tuesday.
The group has called for $ 3 billion in donations to pay for aid in 2021.
Chris Nyamandi, the organization’s country director in Afghanistan, said Afghans suffered from both violent conflict, poverty and a virus pandemic.
“It is a desperately bad situation that requires urgent attention from the international community,” he said.
Nyamandi said that without an immediate end to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer.
“It is especially hard on children, many of whom have only experienced violence,” he said.
Millions of suffering
The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators, which began earlier this month in Qatar, has been slow to yield results, with growing concerns over a recent outbreak of violence in Afghanistan.
The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families.
In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had significantly disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation.
Additional health and economic stresses from the pandemic have compounded the humanitarian impact across the country.
Many Afghans also blame the rampant government corruption and lawlessness of the country’s poor economy.
The United Nations and its humanitarian partners will seek $ 1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said this month.
This is an increase from around 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance.
“It’s a huge increase in the number of people who need help,” he said.
According to the UN, nearly 6,000 people – a third of whom are children – were killed or injured in the fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said.
Violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes each year and limits people’s access to resources, including hospitals and clinics.
In a previous Save the Children report published in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children were facing freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating.
The organization said it had provided winter survival kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a radiator, blankets and winter clothing, including coats, socks, shoes and hats.
Nyamandi said the fate of the Afghan people is threatened by insufficient humanitarian funding pledged by rich countries at a conference in Geneva in November.
“Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time of increasing humanitarian needs. We are now in an untenable position where aid is far from meeting the needs of the population, ”he said.
The London-based Save the Children report quotes Brishna, 10, from the eastern province of Nangarhar, as saying her family has been forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting.
“Life is difficult,” she says. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.”
Brishna said that she and her brother were collecting trash to cook fires and that it had been a long time since they had adequate food and clothing.
“My brothers and sisters and I always wish we had three meals a day with fruit and a better life. But sometimes we sleep on an empty stomach. During the winter, we don’t have blankets or heating equipment to heat our house, ”she said.