Poverty-stricken Afghans in Kabul and Baghlan provinces must eat dried bread as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shut down businesses and economic activity in the country.
Residents in Kabul and Baghlan provinces have said that a continued lockdown in the cities has had a significant impact on the economy, and the scale of poverty and hunger has increased.
Khawja Ahmad sells dried bread and says that he saw many people over the past few weeks coming to his shop to buy it for their children's survival.
“Poor people have lost their jobs and professions because of the lockdown, they are coming to us for dried bread,” said Khawja Ahmad.
“The aid that is coming from abroad is being embezzled and spent on luxury activities, the aid is not delivered to the people in need of help,” said Nabi, a resident in Kabul.
Nayeb, a resident in the northern Afghan town of Pul-e-Khumri, says that he has bought dried bread for his seven children for the past week.
“My children were dying yesterday, so I was forced to buy dried fruit and take it home for their survival,” said Nayeb.
“The poor are coming and they buy dried bread for their children. There is nothing, all the shops are closed and the ports are closed,” said Niaz Mohammad, a shopkeeper in Baghlan.
“People are wandering (or thinking about) with hunger during Ramadan days,” said Bibi Fatima, a needy women in Baghlan.
According to numbers from the Afghan Ministry of Economy, nearly half of the 35 million people in Afghanistan live below the poverty line.
On May 1, Save the Children in a report said that more than seven million children in Afghanistan are at risk of hunger (starving? dying? or at risk of being malnourished) as food prices soar due to the lockdown following the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
“At a time when Afghan children need adequate daily nutrition to help strengthen their immune systems to fight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the price of basic foods is rising under the lockdown, making it harder for families to feed themselves,” the report said.
The organization also warned that a third of the country will face food shortages.
“A third of the population – including 7.3 million children – will face food shortages in April and May due to the current pandemic,” the organization said.
According to the aid organization, even before the global COVID-19 crisis, the total number of children who needed some form of humanitarian support this year stood at 5.26 million, making war-torn Afghanistan one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child.
“We are deeply concerned about those children who are threatened by hunger over coronavirus,” said Maryam Attayee, a spokeswoman for the Save Children in Afghanistan.