Afghan malnutrition rates at record high, U.N. food agency says
Baku, January 27, AZERTAC
Malnutrition rates in Afghanistan are at record highs — with half the country enduring severe hunger year-round — a spokesman for the U.N.'s World Food Program said, according to NBC News.
The Taliban takeover in August 2021 drove millions into poverty and hunger after foreign aid stopped almost overnight.
Sanctions on Taliban rulers, a halt on bank transfers and frozen billions in Afghanistan’s currency reserves restricted access to global institutions and the outside money that supported the country’s aid-dependent economy before the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces.
“Half of Afghanistan endures severe hunger throughout the year, regardless of the season, and malnutrition rates are at a record high for Afghanistan,” said Phillipe Kropf, a spokesman for the United Nations food agency in Kabul.
“There are 7 million children (under the age of 5) and mothers who are malnourished, in a country with a population of 40 million.”
Afghans are not starving to death, he said, but they have no resources left to stave off the humanitarian crisis.
Aid agencies have been providing food, education and healthcare support to Afghans, including heating, cash for fuel and warm clothes.
But distribution has been severely impacted by a Taliban edict banning women from working at national and international nongovernmental groups.
“The ban has come at the worst possible moment,” said Kropf. “Families and communities don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”
The WFP scaled up its delivery and distribution of aid in anticipation of a tough winter before the ban came in, planning to reach 15 million this month with emergency food assistance and nutrition support.
While it is not directly affected by the ban, 19 of its nongovernmental partners suspended operations in Afghanistan following the Dec. 24 edict.
The NGO ban on women workers has seen the suspension of 115 of 437 mobile health clinics, affecting 82,000 children, and pregnant and lactating women.
The suspension of a training project is hurting 39,300 people, mostly women, while the pause of a school snack program has hit 616,000 students.
At a nutrition clinic in Kabul, 32-year-old nurse Anisa Samadi said most children and mothers will die without support from agencies like the WFP and World Health Organization.
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