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Berlin / Kabul (ots)
9.6 million children in Afghanistan suffer from hunger every day. It shows new figures from the “Integrated Food Security Phase Classification” analysis (IPC) on acute food insecurity in Afghanistan published yesterday. The reasons for this startling increase are the country’s economic collapse, but also the effects of the war in Ukraine and the region’s ongoing drought. Immediate food aid and other measures to stabilize the economy are needed to save lives and tackle the country’s worst hunger crisis ever, Save the Children said.
According to the figures, 19.7 million children and adults in Afghanistan, almost 50 percent of the population, do not have enough to eat. From March to May alone, 20,000 people were driven out of hunger.
Since the Taliban took power in August last year, the primary response of the international community has been to freeze funds and provide only small-scale development assistance. This sent the economy into a downward spiral; Poverty and unemployment rose, and food prices rose dramatically. Many parents have to resort to desperate measures to feed their children.
“Every day, our medical team treats children who fade before their eyes because they only eat bread once a day – and they are the lucky ones,” said Athena Rayburn, director of advocacy, campaigns and media at Save the Children. “Afghan children have never experienced a life without conflict, and unless something is done soon, they will not know one without nagging hunger. The world should not turn its back on the children of Afghanistan.”
From June to November this year, almost 20 million children and adults are expected to need food aid, but there are only enough funds for around 3.2 million people. “With the world’s attention focused on Ukraine, the hope of a timely response to this crisis is fading. Every day that goes by without the necessary resources, children die of preventable causes,” Athena Rayburn said. “The international community must address both Afghanistan’s funding gap and economic collapse by finding ways to keep its economy afloat. Unless the economic crisis is rendered harmless and rising poverty curbed, children will continue to face a catastrophic famine. Humanitarian aid alone cannot save their life.”
Maryam *, 26, lives with her five children in Afghanistan’s Faryab province, where many families can only eat one meal a day and public hospitals are flooded with malnourished children. Maryam’s husband is trying to find work in Iran to support his family. “I care about my kids,” Maryam says. “I have to borrow money to buy food for them, but most of the time I do not have enough food for them.”
Maryam recently borrowed a large sum of money to take her baby Khal Mirza * to the hospital. The infant suffers from severe acute malnutrition. After he was discharged from the hospital, Maryam took him to one of Save the Children’s mobile clinics operating in her community. Save the Children’s doctors were able to help Khal Mirza.
Unfortunately, not all malnourished children in Afghanistan are fortunate enough to receive medical treatment. As the health care system is obviously lacking in resources and staff, many girls and boys are not getting the help they need to survive. A Save the Children survey found that more than 50 percent of families do not have access to health care, mainly because they do not have the money to pay for it.
The crisis in Afghanistan comes at a time when the international community is already dealing with the biggest hunger crisis this century is facing. According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), about 44 million children and adults around the world are on the brink of starvation.
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* Names have been changed
o “Integrated Food Security Phase Classification” (IPC) is an internationally recognized early warning system for famine, based on a scale from one (minimal food insecurity) to five (hunger). The IPC analysis shows the following:
o 19.7 million people (9.6 million children) faced high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC phase three and above) between March 2022 and May 2022.
o 18.9 million people (9.2 million children) are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC phase three and above) between June and November 2022.
o From March 2022, aid to Afghanistan has been significantly expanded. According to the World Food Program, an estimated 15.9 million people (38 percent) were supported from March to May.
o The high level of Humanitarian Food Aid (HFA) for the period March-May 2022 will fall markedly due to extremely limited funding opportunities. From June to November, HFA will only cover eight percent of the population and therefore have only a minimal relief effect.
o From March to May 2022, 20,000 people experienced hunger (IPC phase five).
o Save the Children provides life-saving health and nutrition services to children under the age of five and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in Afghanistan, including the treatment of women and children suffering from acute malnutrition.
About Save the Children: In the post-war year 1919, the British social reformer Eglantyne Jebb founded Save the Children to save children in Germany and Austria from starvation. Today, it is now the largest independent child rights organization in the world, active in around 120 countries. Save the Children works for children in wars, conflicts and disasters. For a world that respects the rights of children, where all children can live healthy and safe and grow up and learn freely and independently – for over 100 years.
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Original content from: Save the Children Deutschland eV, broadcast by news aktuell