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Islamic Relief UK Launches Afghanistan Emergency Appeal As It Warns Of The Country On The Brink of Famine

Aid agencies are predicting that at least 23 million people in Afghanistan are facing acute hunger this coming winter – here’s what we can do to help.

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Aid agencies are predicting that at least 23 million people in Afghanistan are facing acute hunger this coming winter – here’s what we can do to help.

As a harsh winter sets in for 23 million people facing acute hunger, Islamic Relief UK has launched an emergency appeal for Afghanistan as one of the few aid agencies delivering emergency aid in the country.

Islamic Relief UK is warning that Afghanistan is just one step away from famine, as many families are running out of food and half of all children under five are expected to suffer from malnutrition this year.

Food insecurity is now at alarming levels in the country; many people are desperately seeking any available support. Projections suggest that the situation could severely affect 97% of the population unless the situation improves.

Food is particularly scarce in rural areas, with reports of increasing malnutrition and deaths amongst the most vulnerable. Women and children are especially at risk, with women typically prioritizing their families’ needs above their own.

Poorer families are exhausting the last of any meager savings to buy food, and people are begging on the streets to meet their basic needs. Increasing numbers of families are being pushed deep into debt.

Child labor has also increased as parents are forced to send their children to work. They polish shoes, collect garbage, or beg in the streets. Young children work for more than 12-hour shifts for $1 or $2 a day to buy a meal for their families.

The situation is getting more desperate by the day and as the country’s economy collapses people are being plunged deeper into poverty. Due to international restrictions on the central and commercial banks, Afghanistan is facing a cash and liquidity crisis, meaning even economically middle-class families are unable to get their salaries to feed themselves. Banking and financial restrictions are also impacting humanitarian agencies and their ability to deliver vital aid and sustenance.

To preserve livelihoods and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, it is vital that the international community takes a more nuanced approach to its sanctions policies to ensure that the Afghan economy can function and that the humanitarian response is not inadvertently impeded.

Islamic Relief is also calling on governments who have committed to humanitarian support to ensure that fast-track flexible funding is made available to allow humanitarian agencies working on the ground to meet urgent needs.

Tufail Hussain, the Director of Islamic Relief UK, stated:

The situation in Afghanistan is heart-breaking, desperate families are starving and facing a terrible winter. That half of all children under five are expected to suffer from malnutrition this year is difficult to comprehend and truly awful to imagine. We are running out of time, and we fear a humanitarian calamity taking place unless more support is given.”

Islamic Relief will be distributing over 11,000 monthly food packages made up of flour, rice, pulses, oil, salt, and sugar to the most vulnerable families in Kabul, Nangarhar, Balkh, Bamiyan, and Kapisa provinces and will also be supporting people with blankets and winter clothes.

As the economic situation and restriction of funds decimate the health care system, Covid-19 is also of particular concern, especially with critical shortages of medicines, essential supplies, and medical facilities. Up to 3000 health centers have reduced or stopped services in the country.

Dr Hamid Saati, the humanitarian program coordinator for Islamic Relief Afghanistan stated:

“Several aid organizations are working on the ground, but the needs are enormous. There isn’t enough aid available for 23 million people. Hunger has forced millions of people to move to different regions and many are in camps where life is miserable. Poverty inside the camps and the lack of hygiene has caused significant health problems. There has been a cholera outbreak in a few campsites, and the situation is likely to worsen if not tackled soon. People are telling me the same thing; they are terrified and worried about their children. It is a life-or-death situation now as the country is one step away from famine.”

To learn more about Islamic Relief’s work in Afghanistan or to donate, click here.

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