UN says Afghanistan may face food crisis within month

This file photo shows an internally displaced girl outside a temporary shelter in the Afghan capital, Kabul. (By AP)

The United Nations (UN) has warned that Afghanistan could be gripped by food crisis within a month, as a government is yet to be established since Taliban militants took over the country.

In a news briefing on Wednesday, Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan, said most Afghan children under five years of age faced extreme malnutrition, while over one-third of Afghanistan’s 39 million-strong population was already going hungry.

“More than half of Afghan children do not know whether they’ll have a meal tonight or not. That’s the reality of the situation we’re facing on the ground,” he said, warning that the UN’s World Food Programme stocks would run out by the end of this month without $200 million in emergency funding.

“For us to keep the current demand, we need at least $200 million only for the food sector, to be able to provide food to the most vulnerable, and those most vulnerable are children,” Alakbarov added.

He said a $1.3-billion funding request made earlier in the year had so far netted less than $400 million.

The Taliban captured Kabul and ousted the government of the now-runaway president Ashraf Ghani on August 15, after lightning advances that came as the US withdrew its forces from Afghanistan.

The Taliban have yet to form a government and no sovereign state has yet recognized them. This has prevented the resumption of Afghanistan-bound international aid.

As winter is looming and large areas of Afghanistan are affected by a severe drought, more money is needed to feed the population, according to aid agencies.

Alakbarov also said Afghan government services were not functioning and public employees were not receiving their salaries.

The Taliban are poised to run Afghanistan again 20 years after they were removed from power by American forces following the 2001 invasion of the country.

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