WFP warns of ‘catastrophic hunger’ in Afghanistan

Children waiting in a queue to receive food in aid in Kabul on January 18, 2022.

The UN food agency said Monday it urgently needs $800 million for the next six months to help the people of Afghanistan who are at the highest risk of famine in a quarter of a century.

While aid agencies have continued to roll out humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, funding has seen a rapid decline over the past few months following edicts by the Taliban against women – especially women working for NGOs and the United Nations.

The World Food Program, which has been severely hampered by the ban on women working for the UN – implemented last week – said women aid workers play a vital role in delivering the agency’s food and nutrition assistance and that it will make “every possible effort” to keep this going, while also trying to ensure the active involvement of female staff.

The organization stated: “The WFP urgently needs $800 million for the next six months to continue providing assistance to people in need across Afghanistan.

“Catastrophic hunger knocks on Afghanistan’s doors and unless humanitarian support is sustained, hundreds of thousands more Afghans will need assistance to survive,” the agency said.

This appeal coincided with the UN’s urgent appeal for funding for Afghanistan. The organization said that its operations in the country remain severely under-funded, with $249 million reported to be confirmed for 2023, nearly one-third of the amount received for the same period in 2022.

It said Afghanistan is dealing with its third consecutive year of drought-like conditions, a second year of crippling economic decline, and is still suffering from decades of conflict and natural disasters.

“The total ‘immediate’ funding requirements to address critical gaps for the coming three months is $717.4 million,” according to a statement from the agency’s office for humanitarian affairs.

“This is all part of an overall funding gap of $4.38 billion across the humanitarian response for 2023.”It previously said that Afghanistan is its lowest-funded operation globally, despite being the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.