About 16 million Afghans are in serious need of humanitarian aid and hunger and lack of food safety are threatening them, said Wahid Amani, a spokesman for the World Food Program (WFP).
According to WFP, nearly 4 million people in Afghanistan have lost their income sources following the outbreak of COVID-19.
“Afghanistan still should be the focus point of the international community. Afghanistan is one of the countries where the level of hunger, lack of food safety and poverty are still very high because of the coronavirus,” said Wahid Amani, a spokesman for the WFP in Afghanistan.
Nafisa Reshtin has been associated with the WFP program for a decade.
“When the authorities ordered lockdowns across the country to quell the spread of COVID-19, from one day to the next, street vendors stopped pushing their carts through the residential areas of Kabul. Suddenly, they were part of the 16 million Afghans that WFP estimates are at risk of going hungry as their livelihoods have been disrupted by the pandemic,” Reshtin says.
“I interact with some of the 10.3 million people the WFP plans to serve in Afghanistan in 2020, including 3 million beneficiaries struck by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. Many people are struggling for survival and worry more about where their next meal will come from than about getting sick with coronavirus. I just met a woman who told me that she could not stay at home even for a single day during the lockdown because she needed to make money to buy food for her family. She works as a dish washer after funeral ceremonies. She probably washed dishes at ceremonies held for people who died of COVID-19. Our minister of health recently said that 10 million people in Afghanistan are estimated to have been infected by the virus,” added Reshtin.
Based on the UN statistics, in the initial days of 2020, the number of those in humanitarian need were around 12 million people, but 4 million additional people were added to the number following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ajab Gul is the breadwinner of an eleven-member family in Kabul who lost his income because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Poverty is a lot, I don’t have anything, yesterday I brought some bread at home, but today I have nothing except God,” said Ajab Gul, who is disabled.
WFP aid workers have called on the warring factions in the country not to obstruct the relief services to the people.
According to WFP, there is a need for $218 million till end of the year to cover over 10 million Afghans in dire need of aid.
Back in May, Save the Children said that more than seven million children in Afghanistan are at risk of hunger as food prices soar due to the lockdown following the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The organization also warned that a third of the country will face food shortages.
The report stated that the "most recent nutrition surveys in Afghanistan show that an estimated two million children under five will suffer from the most life-threatening form of extreme hunger annually. The effects of the lockdown coupled with one of the weakest health systems in the world – Afghanistan has just 0.3 doctors per 1,000 people – means malnourished and sick children are much less likely to get the life-saving treatment they need to survive.”