Photo: AFP via Getty Images
With the poverty rate in Afghanistan already over 70 percent, United Nations officials fear that the humanitarian crisis caused by nearly 40 years of war and occupation could lead to widespread malnutrition and hunger in the coming months. According to the United Nations Development Program, more than a million children may be at risk of starvation in the coming winter. The poverty rate could reach 98 percent next season. One in three Afghans doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from, even now.
“After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, they may face their most dangerous hour,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres at a conference in Geneva to deal with the crisis. UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore said that at least 1 million children could die from severe acute malnutrition this year.
Prior to the Taliban’s takeover of the country last month, Afghanistan was facing a food crisis from a drought that wiped out 40 percent of the year’s crop and skyrocketed the prices of staples like wheat by 25 percent. Many farmers were also unable to plant last year due to the Taliban’s offensive that overran Afghanistan’s army.
UN officials indicated that US$ 606 millions in emergency humanitarian aid was needed to avoid the worst consequences of the country’s food shortage. Linda Thomas-Greenfield (US Ambassador to the United Nations), pledged 64 million dollars in new funds to support the cause on Monday. The conference raised more than a billion dollars. Thomas-Greenfield stated that UN officials believe this aid might be dependent on the Taliban agreeing to grant humanitarian organizations the “operating right of humanitarian organisations”. The conference saw the declaration of the Taliban, which was read by the Director for Humanitarian Aid and Emergency Aid at the United Nations. It stated that they would operate humanitarian groups in Afghanistan and will cooperate with the United Nations to grant them the “operating rights” of humanitarian organisations.
It is not clear what role sanctions will play between the Taliban and the United States, and the international economic system. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Bank have already stopped payments to Afghanistan. However, the Biden government has frozen close to $ 10 trillion in its reserves. Jeffrey DeLaurentis (Deputy Ambassador) stated at a UN Security Council meeting that “all legitimacy must be earned”
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