Humanitarian crisis looms in Afghanistan

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On the day Afghanistan enters a new phase, the deepening humanitarian and economic crisis in the country and the threat of basic services collapsing completely. Today, almost half of the population of Afghanistan — 18 million people — need humanitarian assistance to survive. One in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from. More than half of all children under five are expected to become acutely malnourished in the next year. People are losing access to basic goods and services every day. A humanitarian catastrophe looms.
Now more than ever, Afghan children, women and men need the support and solidarity of the international community. The humanitarian system’s commitment to stay and deliver will not waver.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling on member states to contribute aid to support Afghan people in “their darkest hour of need.”
Afghanistan was coping with a severe drought, and its citizens would have to face harsh winter conditions, underlining the need for supplies to be urgently sent to the country, the UN chief said.
Given this precarious outlook, Guterres called on all parties to facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access for life-saving and life-sustaining supplies, supplies, as well as for all humanitarian workers, pointedly noting that this meant both men and women working in the field.
“I urge all Member States to dig deep for the people of Afghanistan in their darkest hour of need,” he continued.
“I urge them to provide timely, flexible and comprehensive funding. I urge them to help ensure humanitarian workers have the funding, access, and legal safeguards they need to stay and deliver.”
Meanwhile, spokesperson Jens Laerke from the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) on Tuesday said operations were continuing, and that the UN had already helped eight million people this year alone.
But he warned that the US $ 1.3 billion funding requirement had not been met and that there was a lack of supplies in the now Taliban-controlled nation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also warned that despite Monday’s delivery of 12.5 metric tonnes of medical supplies by a flight of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) would cover the basic health needs of more than 200,000 people, but was still “not enough”.
WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said although the UN health agency was planning two more supply flights this week, it wanted “continual flights” to restore basic services.
She warned that before the Taliban takeover, some 12.2 million people were already projected to experience food insecurity and malnutrition; getting supplies into Afghanistan was “absolutely critical”, she said.
Also briefing journalists in Geneva on Tuesday, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, repeated its call to neighbouring States to keep their borders open to those fleeing Afghanistan.
The UNHCR spokesperson commended Pakistan for having hosted Afghan refugees for decades, with 1.4 million registered there. He added that whilst he was aware of the pressures it poses, UNHCR remained ready to help national authorities to scale up the response to humanitarian needs.