UN warns of ‘urgent need’ to avoid acute Afghan food insecurity |

The unfolding situation has caused significant disruption and threatens Afghanistan’s critical winter wheat season, which is about to begin, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned ahead of a major fundraising conference scheduled to take place in Geneva on 13 September.

Farmers grow potatoes in Bamyan, Afghanistan.  Without emergency support, farmers and shepherds could lose their livelihoods and be forced to leave rural areas

Farmers grow potatoes in Bamyan, Afghanistan. Without emergency support, farmers and pastoralists could lose their livelihoods and be forced to leave rural areas, by ADB / Jawad Jalali

One in three Afghans is acutely food insecure, a situation that is dramatic of any fantasy, ”said FAO Director of the Office of Emergencies and Resilience, Rein Paulsen, in a speech from Islamabad.

To underline the serious situation in the country, Jens Laerke, Spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), warned that “basic services in Afghanistan are collapsing and food and other life-saving help are running out ”.

A ‘very short window’

Paulsen noted that there is likely to be a “25 percent deficit on the national wheat crop this year”. Half of the average Afghan’s daily caloric intake comes from wheat, and most of the supply grown in the country comes from the upcoming rainy winter season, the FAO expert said, adding that there was “an urgent requirement towards the end of September”.

“We need to make sure that planting starts. There is a very short time to be able to solve it. The seeds can not wait. The peasants can not wait. We have to do everything we can to ensure that the vulnerable households are supported. ”

Threats to rural livelihoods

In addition to food insecurity, Mr Paulsen noted that 70 percent of all Afghans live in rural areas, and agriculture provides a livelihood for 80 percent of the population.

Threats to rural livelihoods have been a growing concern for the FAO for several months, he said. Without emergency support, peasants and pastoralists could lose their livelihoods and be forced to leave rural areas, increasing pressure on supplies in cities as they become internally displaced.

As of August 2021, the FAO has provided livelihoods and cash benefits in 26 out of 34 provinces to more than 1.5 million people.

In August alone, the FAO managed to reach over 100,000 people despite the upheavals that resulted from the Taliban’s takeover.

Flash appeal to Afghanistan

OCHA is seeking $ 606 million to help nearly 11 million people over the remaining four months of this year, which includes two million people not previously covered by the overall humanitarian response plan, the agency announced Tuesday.

About $ 193 million of the total appeal is for “new and new needs and changes in operating costs,” Mr. Laerke.

Donations will provide “critical food and livelihood assistance to nearly 11 million people, essential health services to 3.4 million” and “treatment for acute malnutrition to more than one million children and women,” Mr Laerke said.

300 unaccompanied children evacuated

Since August 14, hundreds of children have been separated from their families under chaotic conditions in and around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Tuesday.

The agency and its partners have registered about 300 unaccompanied and separated children who have been evacuated from Afghanistan to other countries such as Germany and Qatar.

UNICEF said it expects this figure to rise, and CEO Henrietta Fore stressed in a statement that these children are “among the most vulnerable” in the world.

It is crucial that they are quickly identified and stored securely during family tracing and reunification processes… preferably with extended family members or in a family-based setting ”.

UNICEF provides technical support to governments that have evacuated children and those who host them. Teams are on the ground at Doha Air Force Base in Qatar and Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and the agency is urging the Taliban to provide unhindered humanitarian access to all parts of Afghanistan to get an accurate picture of the displaced.

Transfers from abroad, essential: IOM

There is a need for remittances to struggling Afghan families now more than ever, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday, urging the nearly six million workers living outside the country to continue providing this vital lifeline.

That The financial system is on the verge of collapse, the IOM warned, with money transfers also in “a bad state”.

Following the Taliban’s takeover of the country, the United States froze $ 7 billion in Afghan reserves, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) closed off funding for the country, including hundreds of millions of dollars in special currency convertible rights. in times of crisis, the IOM said.

Afghanistan’s central bank can only access a fraction of its usual funding. This has meant that Afghan banks’ coffers cannot be easily refilled, resulting in ATMs running out of cash and withdrawal limits being set.

On the other hand, the prices of essential goods are sky high. There are fears of food shortages, higher inflation and a fall in the currency, all of which result in an intensification of the humanitarian emergency throughout the country.

By 2020, formal remittances to Afghanistan amounted to up to $ 788 million – about 4 percent of Afghanistan’s total GDP. According to the 2016-2017 Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey (ALCS), remittances represent a source of income for nearly 1 in every 10 Afghan households.

Emergency preparedness must now be better coordinated with Afghans who are abroad, the IOM said.

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