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Record levels of hunger persist in Afghanistan, WFP warns in latest report

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(Last Updated On: May 10, 2022)

Almost half of Afghanistan’s population – 19.7 million – are facing acute hunger according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis conducted in January and February this year by food security cluster partners of the United Nations.

The report, published on Monday, predicts that the outlook for June to November this year sees a slight improvement in the food security situation, with a reduction in the number of people facing acute food insecurity to 18.9 million people.

This is due in part to the coming wheat harvest from May to August, and this year’s well-coordinated scale-up of humanitarian food assistance – alongside increased agricultural livelihood support.

However, gains will be limited – the report warns.

Lingering drought and the deep economic crisis mean that unprecedented hunger will continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across Afghanistan.

“Of particular concern – and for the first time since the introduction of the IPC in Afghanistan in 2011 – a small pocket of ‘catastrophic’ levels of food insecurity – or IPC Phase 5 – has been detected in the country,” the World Food Program (WFP) reported.

“More than 20,000 people in the north-eastern province of Ghor are facing catastrophic levels of hunger because of a long period of harsh winter and disastrous agricultural conditions.

Unprecedented levels of humanitarian assistance focused on bolstering food security have made a difference. But the food security situation is dire, the report stated.

“Humanitarian assistance remains desperately important, as do the needs to rebuild shattered agricultural livelihoods and re-connect farmers and rural communities to struggling rural and urban markets across the country. Unless these happen, there will be no way out of this crisis,” said Richard Trenchard, FAO Representative in Afghanistan.

“Food assistance and emergency livelihood support are the lifeline for the people of Afghanistan. We mounted the world’s largest humanitarian food operation in a matter of months, reaching more than 16 million people since August 2021,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP’s Country Director and Representative in Afghanistan.

“We are working with farmers, millers, and bakeries, training women and creating jobs to support the local economy. Because the people of Afghanistan would much prefer jobs; women want to be able to work; and all girls deserve to go to school. Allowing the economy to function normally is the surest way out of the crisis, otherwise suffering will grow where crops cannot,” she added.

The upcoming harvest will bring some relief to millions of families struggling with income losses and food shortages.

However, for many, the harvest will only offer short-term relief and very little opportunity for recovery.

In addition to this, the war in Ukraine continues to put pressure on Afghanistan’s wheat supply, food commodities, agricultural inputs, and fuel prices. Access to seeds, fertilizer and water for irrigation is limited, labour opportunities are scarce and enormous debts have been incurred to buy food over the last few months.

Both FAO and WFP continue to scale up their programmes across the country. WFP has reached more than 16 million people so far in 2022 with emergency food assistance, and is supporting local markets, working with retailers and local suppliers. WFP continues to invest in people’s livelihoods through skills training and climate adaption projects so that families can cultivate their land and grow their own food.

FAO continues to scale up its assistance to farmers and herders in rural areas and will assist more than nine million people in 2022 through a range of interventions supporting crop, livestock and vegetable production, cash transfers and the rehabilitation of vital irrigation infrastructure and systems.

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China calls on US to release Afghanistan’s assets

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

Wang Wenbin, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said Friday the freezing of $7 billion of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves has caused the economic crisis in Afghanistan to intensify, and that Beijing sees the continued blocking of these assets as “unjustifiable”.

“The freezing of seven billion dollars in assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan has played a negative role in aggravating the economic crisis in this country and the US government must release these assets of the Afghan people and there is no justification for the continued blocking of Afghanistan’s assets,” said Wang.

China and Russia, the two fierce rivals of the US, have reacted to the freezing of Afghanistan’s assets several times since the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan (IEA) took power. The two countries have also called for the release of the foreign reserves on a number of occasions.

“United States is the political and economic opponent of China, and the Chinese make moves against the US from any source,” said Sayed Massoud, a university professor.

After the IEA swept to power in August last year, the US froze almost $10 billion dollars of the country’s foreign reserves.

US President Joe Biden, signed an order on February 11, 2021, that half of the reserves be allocated to the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. He instructed that the balance be used for humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan.

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IEA urges India to complete unfinished projects in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

The foreign ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has called on India to complete its unfinished developmental projects in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued on Saturday, the IEA also called on India to embark on other “vital projects,” in Afghanistan.

The statement was issued after India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said Friday a team of diplomats, excluding the ambassador, had gone to Afghanistan to address issues such as humanitarian assistance, vaccine campaigns and development projects in the country.

“We have taken a very considered deliberated view that our relationship at the end of the day is with the people of Afghanistan, to the society and that it is a relationship which is deep enough and in a sense, historically long enough for us to actually find ways of factoring in these political changes and continuing that people-to-people, so like a relationship,” Jaishankar told reporters.

IEA’s foreign ministry said it welcomed India’s move to step up diplomatic presence at its embassy in Kabul, and reiterated security assurances.

The ministry expressed hope that relations between India and Afghanistan would expand further.

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Thirteen people killed in flash floods in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

Thirteen people including women and children have been killed in flash floods caused by heavy rains over the past two days in Afghanistan, officials said on Saturday.

Sharafuddin Muslim, the deputy state minister for disaster management, said that the floods happened in Khost, Paktia, Logar, Ghazni, Maidan Wardak, Parwan and Kapisa provinces.

According to the official, 13 people including four women and five children were killed and two others went missing following the floods.

Muslim said that hundreds of homes were damaged. Some roads connecting villages with the district centers were also blocked.

Responding to the disaster, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is distributing 100,000 afghanis to each family affected, he said.

Other basic items are also being delivered, he said.

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