UN agency warns aid shortage will push Afghanistan’s children further toward deadly malnutrition

A child at Children’s Hospital in Kabul. Sept. 19, 2022.

A UN agency on Thursday warned that it is facing with lack of critical food aid in Afghanistan due to a lack of funding, amidst a widespread humanitarian crisis in the country.

“Thousands of children could die from severe acute malnutrition,” said Melanie Galvin, chief of nutrition at the United Nations Children´s Fund. She was speaking in a video message on UNICEF´s official Twitter account.

Galvin added that 875,000 children in Afghanistan will suffer from life-threatening acute malnutrition this year.

She said that UNICEF in Afghanistan faces an urgent funding gap of $21 million to purchase essential supplies for treating malnutrition and training health workers around the country.

“In Afghanistan, we are facing a critical funding gap for ready-to-use therapeutic food,” she said.

RUTF is an energy-dense paste consisting of milk powder, vegetable oil, sugar, peanut butter, and powdered vitamins and minerals.

In the short term, severe acute malnutrition is life-threatening. In the long term, it can impact growth and mental development in a way that affects a child throughout their lives. Ready-to-use therapeutic food or RUTF supplies can rapidly treat such malnutrition.

“This is a highly efficient and effective small package that we give to children, and they can be cured in as little as eight weeks,” said Galvin.

This comes as Taliban ban on women aid workers at UN agencies has disrupted the delivery of aid to those in need.

In April, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Afghanistan needs $4.62 billion in aid for nearly 28 million Afghans in need.