UN says six million Afghans are at risk of famine as crises grow
Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths urges donors to immediately provide $770m as the population battles hunger, climate change and conflict.
The UN humanitarian chief has urged donors to restore funding for development in Afghanistan that was frozen when the Taliban took over a year ago, warning that six million people were at risk of famine.
Martin Griffiths told the United Nations Security Council that Afghanistan faces multiple crises – humanitarian, economic, climate, hunger and financial – and that donors should immediately provide $770m to help Afghans survive the coming colder months.
Conflict, poverty, climate shocks and food insecurity “have long been a sad reality” in Afghanistan, but he said what makes the current situation “so critical” is the halt to large-scale development aid.
“Poverty is deepening, the population is still growing, and the de facto authorities have no budget to invest in their own future. It’s clear to us that some development support needs to be restarted,” Griffiths said.
More than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million people need humanitarian help and six million are at risk of famine. More than a million children are “estimated to be suffering from the most severe, life-threatening form of malnutrition” and could die without proper treatment, he said.
“Afghanistan’s de facto authorities must also do their part. Bureaucratic interferences and procedures slow down humanitarian assistance when it is needed most. Female humanitarian aid workers … must be allowed to work unhindered and securely. And girls must be allowed to continue their education,” he said.
The Taliban has not been formally recognised by any foreign governments and is still subjected to international sanctions, which the UN and aid groups say are now hindering humanitarian operations in the country.
Griffiths said $614m is urgently required to prepare for winter – including repairing and upgrading shelters and providing warm clothes and blankets – and an additional $154m to organise food and other supplies before the weather restricts access to certain areas.