The lockdown of big cities like Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat and Jalalabad has hit vulnerable families who often have one or two breadwinners with no savings and who earn low wages from daily labor.
The government has not provided official figures on number of families in dire need of food during the lockdown but some figures collected by a committee of volunteers in collaboration with Balkh Provincial Council show that at least 10,000 families need urgent help.
TOLOnews reporter Aref Musavi says shops and public places have been closed in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif for the past 10 days, but still people are seen on the streets, probably to find bread for their families.
“We cannot provide the required assistance; our people are vulnerable. Over the last week, during the increased lockdown, there are families who do not have anything to eat,” said Afzal Hadid, head of the Balkh Provincial Council.
One member of the volunteers' committee said that along with 10,000 vulnerable families, there are 20,000 internally displaced persons and returned refugee families in Mazar-e-Sharif who also need help.
An MP from Balkh, Abdulkhaliq, criticized the government’s approach to aid in the provinces, specifically its level of assistance in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Some provinces that do not have coronavirus cases have been helped three times more than other provinces,” the lawmaker said.
A shipment for food supplies including wheat from Uzbekistan arrived in Balkh two weeks ago but it has not been distributed to vulnerable families so far, according to the committee members.
“Assistance has been provided by Uzbekistan but according to First Vice President Mr. (Amrullah) Saleh, it will be distributed to five northern provinces,”
Balkh governor Mohammad Ishaq Rahguzar said.
Heads of two families who talked to TOLOnews this week said the lockdown has made life difficult for them.
“We will die of hunger amid the lockdown. Hunger will kill the poor people before corona,” said Chaman, a Balkh resident.
“What will the vulnerable people eat? What should I take to my children?” said Amir Mohammad, a Balkh resident.