World Food Programme Sounds Alarm Over Afghanistan Hunger Crisis

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) on September 22 again raised alarm over Afghanistan’s deepening food crisis, reporting that “only five percent of households have enough to eat every day.”

The fresh warning came hours ahead of a conference between G20 foreign ministers regarding the situation in Afghanistan, scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi and President of Russia Vladimir Putin also discussed Afghanistan during a telephone meeting on September 22, according to the Italian and Russian governments.

The “abrupt and unrelenting” economic collapse, severe drought, and the “rapid withdrawal of international aid” had helped fueled a cash crisis in the country, WFP said in a press release. Among the 14 million people facing acute food insecurity were two million children at risk of malnutrition, the organization added.

“For the first time, urban residents are suffering from food insecurity at similar rates to rural communities, which have been ravaged by drought twice in the past three years,” the WFP said in a press release. “Only five percent of households in Afghanistan have enough to eat every day, according to recent surveys conducted by WFP, while half reported they had run out of food altogether at least once in the past two weeks.”

WFP said it was “racing against the clock” to provide help to people, but said it urgently needed $200 million to buy and prepare food supplies for winter. "If we miss this window the consequences will be catastrophic,” said WFP’s Afghanistan Country Director, Mary-Ellen McGroarty.

Footage taken by WFP over two weeks up to September 21 shows children in Kabul being tested for malnutrition, children collecting water from a dry riverbed near Mazar-i-Sharif, and a convoy of WFP vehicles crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan, carrying what WFP said were supplies for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and young children.

The same day, the World Health Organization warned world leaders that Afghanistan’s health system was “on the brink of collapse.” The UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, announced he was releasing $45 million in funds from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund to keep Afghanistan’s health care facilities “operating through the end of 2021.” Credit: WFP via Storyful