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UNHCR warns Afghanistan crisis worsening as temperatures drop

News Agencies | Updated on: 13 October 2021, 7:18 IST

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday that the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is worsening, and funding for emergency aid is urgently needed to help 20 million people there.

This comes a month since the UN had led an appeal for solidarity for the people of Afghanistan, seeking USD 606 million for the troubled country. Only 35 per cent of the funds it needed to fund operations for the next two months had been received, the UN refugee agency said.

On Monday, UN chief Antonio Guterres had urged the international community to inject cash into Afghanistan's crumbling economy to prevent its collapse, for which "not only they but all the world will pay a heavy price".

UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch on Tuesday said that the agency was trying to establish a logistics hub just outside Afghanistan's border to distribute aid to the country's many hundreds of thousands of internally displaced, UN News reported.

Baloch stated that Afghanistan's economy was at "a breaking point", and that this collapse had to be avoided at all costs. "So, resources are really needed to reach more and more Afghans, I mean, when you talk about half of the population relying on humanitarian assistance; 20 million, that number is rising day by day," he said. "We need those resources as immediately as possible."

The UNHCR spokesperson said that the agency planned to conduct three airlifts to scale up supplies to Afghanistan in the coming period.

"Consignments will be airlifted to Termez, Uzbekistan, and subsequently trucked through the Hairatan border point into Mazar-i-Sharif. The airlifts will deliver urgently needed humanitarian relief items. The first flight is expected to arrive mid-October."

At the beginning of 2021, 18 million people in Afghanistan needed humanitarian assistance, half of the country's population.

UN aid officials insist that "the window to assist is narrow", as only five per cent of households have enough to eat every day, and more than half of all children under-five are expected to become acutely malnourished in the next year, UN News reported.

Severe drought and disruptions to farming have increased the risk of food insecurity as the winter approaches, said the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

At the G20 Extraordinary Meeting on Afghanistan, the UN chief Antonio Guterres, stressed there are three areas for essential action: ensuring a lifeline of help to the Afghan people, avoiding a total meltdown of the country's economy and a "constant commitment" to move things in the right direction, for the Afghan people.


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First published: 13 October 2021, 7:18 IST