AP

Aid official: Afghanistan’s crises get ‘progressively worse’

Dec 2, 2021, 9:57 AM | Updated: 11:19 am

A baby girl sleeps on a bed next to her mother as she undergoes treatment at the malnutrition ward ...

A baby girl sleeps on a bed next to her mother as she undergoes treatment at the malnutrition ward of the Ataturk National Children's Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec, 2, 2021. According to U.N. figures from early November, almost 24 million people in Afghanistan, around 60% percent of the population, suffer from acute hunger, including 8.7 million living in near famine. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan is being hit by multiple crises that are “progressively getting worse,” with drought, economic collapse and displacement all pushing the population into catastrophic hunger, a senior international aid official said Thursday.

The onset of winter will only increase the pain for Afghans and drive some closer to disaster, warned Alexander Matheou, Asia-Pacific regional director for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“Staying warm and putting food on the table is now harder than it was before. And if you fall sick, you are more likely to struggle in trying to access health care,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press at the end of a visit to Afghanistan.

“For people who already vulnerable, they will become more vulnerable. For people already in critical condition, it could become deadly,” Matheou added.

According to U.N. figures from early November, almost 24 million people in Afghanistan, around 60% percent of the population, suffer from acute hunger. That includes 8.7 million living in near- famine. Increasing numbers of malnourished children have filled hospital wards.

Afghanistan has been suffering from its worst drought in decades since last year, hitting 80% of the country. The drought has reduced crops and wrecked incomes for farming families, driving many to leave their villages. More than 700,000 people were displaced from their homes this year, whether by fighting or drought, adding to the ranks of some 3.5 million displaced from past years of fighting.

After the Taliban took over the country of 38 million people on Aug. 15, the bottom dropped out of the already dilapidated economy.

Sanctions on the Taliban cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in international financing on which the government relied. Billions of dollars in Afghan assets abroad were frozen. Afghanistan’s banking system was largely cut off from the world. As a result, the government has largely been unable to pay salaries and jobs across the economy have disappeared.

“Now it’s the converging of all those factors that is creating a major humanitarian crisis, which is progressively getting worse,” Matheou said.

At Kabul’s Ataturk Children’s Hospital, the malnutrition ward was filled to capacity with emaciated children.

Lina, who brought her 3-month-old son Osman to the hospital, said she couldn’t afford to feed her children. “There’s no work. The economy has is wrecked since the Taliban came. Everyone is out of work,” she said.

With the cut-off of foreign financing, many health facilities around the country have also closed, making it even more difficult for Afghans to get medical treatment. The U.N. has been drawing up plans to start paying salaries for medical workers – who have not received pay for months – and provide other support.

The IFRC has brought in 3,000 tons of food supplies, enough to feed 210,000 people for two months, and is providing families with blankets, thermal insulation and heaters. The organization also finances some 140 health facilities around the country.

“It is clearly a help, but it is not enough. That sort of activity needs to be scaled up to meet the needs of millions not of thousands,” Matheou said.

He said the banking crisis needs to be resolved, and most importantly, sanctions must “have exemptions for humanitarian action” and “not cause harm to vulnerable people.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

7 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

7 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

9 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

10 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

10 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Aid official: Afghanistan’s crises get ‘progressively worse’