As the freezing winter sets in, Afghanistan threatens to slip into a devastating economic and humanitarian disaster. Over the past year, the ongoing pandemic, another extreme drought, the escalation in conflict, the Taliban takeover and the ensuing economic crisis, have pushed the country to the edge of becoming the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

Since the change in power three months ago, there has been no international recognition of the Taliban government, development support has mostly been suspended and the country’s US dollar reserves remain frozen. This means that the banking system is not functioning and the economy is in freefall compounding the likelihood of famine arising from the most severe drought for many years. Lack of funding means government salaries are going unpaid with a direct impact on basic services such as healthcare and education.

Despite all this, Afghanaid has been able to re-open all our offices, bring both men and women back to work and ramp up our emergency humanitarian assistance work to reach at-risk families across the country. In collaboration with the UN, which is directing resources to some of the most threatened regions, Afghanaid and other international and national NGOs are demonstrating that the most effective way to deliver the ongoing support Afghans need is through the UN and the established NGOs. At the present juncture, only they have the necessary infrastructure and experience to deliver support across the country, regardless of who exercises control locally. 

Before the Taliban takeover, Afghanaid had been increasing our humanitarian assistance to support families to get through the winter months and rebuild their lives come the spring. Since the beginning of 2021, we have supported over three hundred and fifty thousand men, women and children with emergency humanitarian assistance, including providing shelter, food, heating and cash. With financial support from UN agencies and the generous donations of our supporters, we are now trying to get help to those in critical need in our working areas before the winter comes. 

Last month, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, issued by the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster of Afghanistan, co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the UN World Food Programme, found that over half of all Afghans will face crisis or emergency levels of acute food insecurity over the winter. This means that some 22.8 million people will be unable to feed themselves. 

It is unfortunate that many international donors have continued to suspend funding, meaning that crucial longer term development work has not been able to continue. With the country now on the brink of famine, it is men, women and children across the country who will suffer if the international community seeks to penalise the new government through economic sanctions. Afghanaid calls on the international community to urgently resume and increase both humanitarian and development aid to the country, in order to avoid further catastrophe in a country that has already dealt with so much.

How can you help men, women and children in Afghanistan?

Over the coming months, Afghans will need more support than ever to get through the winter and rebuild their lives come spring.

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