Friday, September 17, 2021

A severe hunger crisis in Afghanistan is imminent

By Kathy Gannon, Rahim Faiez, and Edith M. Lederer | Associated Press

Kabul, Afghanistan-A senior official warned on Wednesday that the UN’s food stocks in Afghanistan could be exhausted this month and threatened to face the challenge as the country’s new Taliban rulers try to restore stability after decades of war Increase the hunger crisis. .

Ramiz Alakbarov, the head of humanitarian affairs for the United Nations in Afghanistan, said that about one-third of the country’s 38 million people do not know whether they can eat every day.

In recent weeks, the United Nations World Food Program has shipped food and distributed it to tens of thousands of people, but as winter approaches and the drought continues, at least US$200 million is urgently needed to continue to feed the most vulnerable Afghans, he said.

“By the end of September, the WFP’s stocks in the country will be used up,” Alakbarov told reporters at a virtual press conference. “We will not be able to provide the necessary food because we will be out of stock.”

Earlier, UN officials stated that only 39% of the 1.3 billion US dollars needed for overall assistance were received.

The Taliban, which seized control of the country before the U.S. withdrawal this week, must now govern a country that relies heavily on international aid and is in a deteriorating economic crisis. In addition to concerns about food supplies, civil servants have not received their wages for several months, and the local currency is also depreciating. Most of Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves are abroad and are currently frozen.

Khalid Payenda, the former acting finance minister of Afghanistan, detailed a country in a dangerous and fragile state on Wednesday.

In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, Penda said that the Afghan currency has not yet collapsed because the currency exchange has been closed. But its value could plummet by more than 100%, Payenda said, describing former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as retreating and paranoid before the Taliban took over.

“I think the war hurt his soul, and he sees everything with suspicion,” said Penda.

Part of the chaos reflects the speed at which the Taliban control the country, and Peenda said that because of the commitment of international donors, he thought the previous government could have maintained it for another two or three years.

“I didn’t expect it to be so fast,” Payenda said. “No one actually does this.”

Mohammad Sharif, a shopkeeper in the capital of Kabul, said that there is supply in shops and markets there, but a major problem is rising food prices.

“If this situation continues and there is no government controlling prices, it will cause a lot of problems for locals,” he said.

After the United States withdrew, many Afghans anxiously awaited how the Taliban would rule. When they were in power for the last time, before being expelled by a US-led invasion in 2001, they imposed severe restrictions, refusing to allow girls to go to school, mainly restricting women to the home, and banning television, music, and even photography.

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But recently, their leaders have tried to establish a more moderate image. The school has reopened to boys and girls, but Taliban officials said they will study separately. The women took to the streets wearing Islamic headscarves as usual, instead of the all-encompassing burqas that the Taliban used to demand.

The challenges faced by the Taliban in revitalizing the economy may have influence on Western countries as they push the organization to fulfill its promise to form an inclusive government and protect women’s rights. The Taliban stated that they hope to maintain good relations with other countries, including the United States.

Many Afghans worry that the Taliban will not honor these promises and worry that the country’s economic situation has little chance. Tens of thousands of people tried to flee the country due to the painful airlift.

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However, after the last batch of U.S. troops took off from Kabul International Airport before midnight on Monday, thousands of Americans working with the United States and its allies and as many as 200 Americans remained in the country.

President Joe Biden later defended his handling of chaotic evacuation and evacuation efforts, which witnessed violent convulsions, including suicide bombings that killed 13 American soldiers and 169 Afghans last week. He said that it is inevitable to finally get rid of the twenty-year war.

He said that if they want, he is still committed to leaving the Americans behind. The Taliban have stated that they will allow people with legal documents to travel freely, but it remains to be seen whether any commercial airlines are willing to provide services.

Bilal Karimi, a full member of the Taliban spokesperson’s office, said on Wednesday that a team of Turkish and Qatar technicians arrived in Kabul to help the airport restart and operate. United Nations humanitarian official Arakbarov said the United Nations requires access to the airport so that it can deliver food and other supplies directly to the capital.

The Taliban must also respond to the threat from the Islamic State organization, which is more radical and claims to be responsible for the airport bombing. The Taliban have promised that they will not allow Afghanistan to be used as a base for attacks on other countries-this is a key requirement of the United States, because militants have harbored al-Qaeda leaders who planned the 9/11 attacks.

After the bombing occurred last week, US officials stated that the target of the drone attack was the Islamic State branch in Afghanistan, and Biden vowed to continue the air strike.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Army General Mark Milli said on Wednesday that the United States “is likely” to coordinate any future counter-terrorism attacks in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

Faiez reported from Istanbul and Lederer from the United Nations. Associated Press writers Tameem Akhgar in Istanbul and Lolita C. Baldor and Josh Boak in Washington contributed.

A severe hunger crisis in Afghanistan is imminent
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