Afghans face 'tsunami of destitution' as famine looms

Asia's Tech News Daily

Women wearing burqas sit with their children as the beg along a road in Kabul, Afghanistan October 26, 2021. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Afghans face a “tsunami of destitution” and need $200m a month in aid to stave of starvation and catastrophe after the Taliban takeover, the United Nations has warned.

Large numbers of Afghan civilians risk dying in the coming months as the country is caught in a stand-off between its new Taliban rulers and the nations that once bankrolled the ousted government.

The rapidly worsening situation was leading to a wave of “incredible suffering and hunger spiralling out of control across Afghanistan,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, who heads the UN's food branch in Afghanistan.

She said the crisis was “pushing millions and millions of its people in every corner of the country to the brink of survival and the country towards potential chaos”.

Her warning came after the UN earlier this week warned that more than half the population were now short of food. There have been reports of orphans starving to death and ruined parents selling their children.

The country of some 38m faces economic and humanitarian collapse after aid was halted following the Taliban's surprise victory over Ashraf Ghani's administration.

Boris Johnson told MPs that Britain was working with UN agencies and others “to mitigate the consequences for the people of Afghanistan of the Taliban takeover”.

“What we can't do at the moment is write a completely blank cheque to the Taliban government, the Taliban authorities,” he said. “We need to ensure that that country does not slip back into being a haven for terrorism.”

Afghanistan had long been descending into crisis as drought and the effects of the war tipped people into poverty, but the country is now quickly accelerating into the world's worst humanitarian disaster.

Amir Abdullah, deputy executive director of the World Food Programme said: “We need something like $200m a month just to keep people alive and slowly start putting them back on their feet.”

The first snows have already fallen and temperatures are quickly dropping, meaning it will be difficult to get aid to remote areas. He said the country had often faced rural hunger, but the collapse of the state now meant starvation was also spreading to the urban middle classes.

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