Famine from Winter in Afghanistan Can Be Temporarily Prevented

A number of donors and aid agencies have temporarily helped prevent a mass famine from occurring this winter in Afghanistan by providing aid to some 20 million Afghans in need.

However, the country’s economic prospects are still bleak.

“We believe that as winter ends, we can avert our worst fears of widespread famine and famine,” Deborah Lyons, special representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told the Security Council on Wednesday. (2/3).

Aid agencies have warned of mass starvation during the winter, which will last until the end of March. The landlocked country plunged into a major humanitarian crisis as its economy plunged after the Taliban took power in August 2021.

While a number of donors have suspended all development assistance to Afghanistan since last August, the United States and other donors continue to provide financial assistance through UN agencies and other non-profit organizations to assist the most vulnerable Afghans. The World Bank, on Tuesday (1/3), announced plans to provide more than $1 billion to UN agencies and international non-profit organizations for humanitarian needs in Afghanistan.

“Let’s be realistic. What we have done is just to buy some time,” Lyons said, adding that the Afghan economy is facing a tipping point as businesses close, unemployment rises and more Afghans fall into poverty.

UN agencies have requested $4.4 billion in aid to be distributed to about 22 million people in Afghanistan by 2022. As of March 3, less than 13 percent of the funding had been met, according to a UN financial monitoring agency. [mg/jm]