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We Are Now Experiencing Winter In Afghanistan: The Beginning Of A Humanitarian Nightmare

With 22 million already facing acute hunger and 8 million on the brink of famine, I cannot even begin to imagine what this winter will bring to Afghanistan.

With 22 million already facing acute hunger and 8 million on the brink of famine, I cannot even begin to imagine what this winter will bring to Afghanistan.

Millions of Afghans on the brink of famine now face their greatest challenge, surviving the harsh winter that has hit the country.

As a doctor working with Islamic Relief, I am seeing malnourished children daily, it’s heart-breaking and extremely difficult. But I have a job to do and must do everything I can to help families. 

When it started snowing heavily in Kabul some weeks ago, my heart sank and I felt a great sense of desperation seeing the city covered in white. Images flashed through my head of the countless families across the country who would now be focusing on one thing only, how to stay alive.

With 24 million already facing acute hunger and 9 million on the brink of famine, I cannot even begin to imagine what this winter will bring to Afghanistan.

The freezing cold is just another layer of hardship for people who face severe shortages of food, medicine and shelter. This is the moment that we have been fearing for weeks and now that it is with us – the unbearable feeling of uncertainty for millions fills my heart with dread.

With the winter comes the increase of seasonal infections especially chest infections among children and the elderly, health problems increase while health centers decrease. Tragically, the cold weather can also be deadly. 

The worst is yet to come, as the weather changes the need for warmth and shelter is urgent. Families are struggling and I fear many will lose their lives.

Our healthcare system has crumbled, as assistance previously funded by international donors was suspended, leaving over 2,000 health centers on the verge of closure.

We have all seen how international financial restrictions and sanctions have led to a banking crisis inside the country whereby people are unable to pay for their basic needs, and now the cold weather has multiplied that suffering for millions.

In Kabul, I met a 52-year-old man who provides for 12 family members, including his elderly parents. He has five children. He struggles to find work to feed his family. He told me that each day he would go out to find work to buy bread but would return home empty-handed to eagerly awaiting family members at the entrance of their temporary tent.

His mental health has been affected because of the pressures of having to provide for so many. Thankfully, we were able to help him in the short term, but there are millions in this situation who will now face the winter.

The financial restrictions are not only crippling people’s means to buy food, but they are also impacting the huge amount of aid that Afghanistan relies on. International aid agencies are providing vital aid but are struggling to reach more people and keep aid going because of the challenges of accessing funds.

We are currently helping over 4,000 people with maternal healthcare and nutrition. We are also looking to provide lifesaving health services in Balkh and Nangarhar, which will help over 60,000 people with maternal health care, covid-19 prevention awareness, and mental health counselling.

We have also provided food parcels to more than 13,000 families but given the unimaginable scale of the crisis, we need to reach many more people.

We need urgent help in what is a dire situation, I would urge people to donate money to our appeal and know that Islamic Relief is doing everything it can to assist those that are suffering and with that help can we reach more.

The country is in urgent need of humanitarian aid and we can avoid huge loss of life if financial restrictions are eased and aid agencies like Islamic Relief are given a significant boost in international aid to save lives.

You can donate to Islamic Relief UK’s Afghanistan Emergency appeal by visiting their website here.

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