Afghanistan has been facing food shortages since the Taliban took over the country and the crisis has only worsened with time and arrival of winters.
Last month, United Nation’s (UN) World Food Programme (WFP), in their call for greater humanitarian assistance from countries for millions of Afghans facing starvation, said that as many as 23 million people (more than half of its population) require urgent food assistance, including 3.2 million children who are facing extreme hunger.
The price of wheat and bread has skyrocketed in the recent past, with price of bread rising to 80 per cent. Apart from this, the citizens are coping up with the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, prolonged drought (which caused 40 per cent loss of country’s harvest in 2021) and economic collapse.
As per the WFP survey, seven in 10 families have turned to borrowing food for their survival and as many as 98 per cent of Afghans are not eating enough, reported Reuters.
"The spiralling economic crisis, the conflict and drought has meant the average family can now barely cope. We have a huge amount to do to stop this crisis from becoming a catastrophe," WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri had said in a Geneva briefing.
On 9 January, Iran Foreign Ministry referring to the recent telephonic conversation between the Indian and Iranian Foreign Minister, revealed that Iran was ready to help India in sending wheat and medicines to Afghanistan.
“Regarding Afghanistan, @Amirabdolahian stressed the need to form an inclusive government in the country. He also referred to India's humanitarian aid to #Afghanistan, announcing measures and cooperation by Iran to transfer this aid in the form of wheat, medicine... to the country,” it added.
Union External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Saturday (8 January) tweeted about the talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdolahian, saying, “Discussed the difficulties of Covid, challenges in Afghanistan, prospects of Chabahar and complexities of the Iranian nuclear issue.”
India has committed to providing 50,000 MT of wheat, essential lifesaving medicines and Covid Vaccines to Afghan people.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement last week, "Government of India has committed to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghan people consisting of food grains, one million doses of COVID Vaccine and essential life saving drugs."
India, in the last week, has provided medical assistance to Afghanistan in two batches – on 1 January, as a “gift for the people of Afghanistan” five lakh doses of Covaxin and on 7 January, two tonnes of essential medicines were delivered.
Last month, India had sent 1.6 tons of medical assistance to Afghanistan through World Health Organization (WHO).
Amid the food shortage and economic collapse, adding to the worries of the Afghans is the latest report by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) that has warned that up to 90 per cent of health centres in Afghanistan might shut down by the end of this year, 2022, reports Khaama Press.
The Committee also warned of the extreme hunger crisis that awaits Afghan people “as it estimates up to 97 per cent of the country’s people to face starvation by the end of 2022.”
As per the report, if the current economic and political situation continues, “millions of Afghan people will be left without health services and facilities and millions more may lose lives.”
Diksha Yadav is a sub editor at Swarajya.
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