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UN warns of ‘urgent imperative’ to avoid acute Afghan food insecurity — Global Issues

The current situation has caused significant disruption and threatens the critical winter wheat season in Afghanistan, which is about to begin, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned, before a major fundraising conference to be held in Geneva on September 13th.

“One in three Afghans suffers from acute food insecurity, a dire situation at all costs,” said FAO Director of Emergency and Resilience, Rein Paulsen, speaking from Islamabad.

Highlighting the dire situation in the country, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) spokesperson Jens Laerke warned that “basic services in Afghanistan are collapsing and food and other vital aids are on the verge of exhaustion ”.

A “very short window”

Mr Paulsen noted that there will likely be a “25 percent deficit on the national wheat crop this year.” Half of the average daily caloric intake of Afghanistan comes from wheat, and most of the supply grown in the country comes from the upcoming rainy winter season, the FAO expert said, adding that ‘there was “an urgent imperative towards the end of September”.

“We have to make sure this plantation starts. There is a very short period of time to be able to fix this problem. The seeds cannot wait. Farmers cannot wait. We must do all we can to ensure that these vulnerable households are taken care of ”.

Threats to rural livelihoods

In addition to food insecurity, Paulsen noted that 70 percent of all Afghans live in rural areas and agriculture provides livelihoods for 80 percent of the population.

Threats to rural livelihoods have been of growing concern to FAO for months, he said. Without urgent support, farmers and herders could lose their livelihoods and be forced to leave rural areas, increasing pressure on supplies in towns and villages as they move within. from the country.

In August 2021, FAO provided livelihoods and cash assistance in 26 of 34 provinces, to more than 1.5 million people.

In August alone, FAO managed to reach more than 100,000 people, despite the upheavals resulting from the Taliban takeover.

Flash appeal for Afghanistan

OCHA is seeking $ 606 million to help nearly 11 million people over the remaining four months this year, including two million people previously not covered by the comprehensive humanitarian response plan, the agency said on Tuesday.

About $ 193 million of the total appeal is for “new and emerging needs and changes in operating costs,” said Laerke.

The donations will provide “essential food and livelihood assistance to nearly 11 million people, essential health services to 3.4 million” and “treatment for acute malnutrition for more than one million children and women, ”said Laerke.

300 unaccompanied children evacuated

Since August 14, hundreds of children have been separated from their families in chaotic conditions in and around Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Tuesday.

The agency and its partners have registered around 300 unaccompanied and separated children evacuated from Afghanistan to other countries such as Germany and Qatar.

UNICEF said it expects the number to increase, and Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement that these children “are among the most vulnerable” in the world.

“It is essential that they are promptly identified and protected during family tracing and reunification processes … preferably with extended family members or in a family setting.”

UNICEF provides technical support to governments who have evacuated children and to those who take them in. Teams are on the ground at Doha Air Base in Qatar and Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and the agency calls on the Taliban to provide unhindered humanitarian access to all parts of Afghanistan in order to gather a accurate picture of displaced people.

Vital overseas remittances: IOM

Remittances to struggling Afghan families are needed more than ever, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday, calling on the nearly six million workers living outside the country to continue providing the buoy. life-saving rescue.

The financial system is on the verge of collapse, IOM warned, with remittances also in “a precarious state”.

Following the Taliban takeover of the country, the United States froze $ 7 billion in Afghan reserves, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suspended funding for the country, including hundreds of millions of dollars. dollars in Special Drawing Rights, which can be converted into foreign currency. in times of crisis, IOM said.

The Afghan Central Bank can only access a fraction of its usual funding. This means that Afghan bank coffers cannot be easily filled, resulting in cash-strapped ATMs and withdrawal limits being put in place.

In turn, the prices of essential goods are skyrocketing. There are fears of food shortages, higher inflation and a falling currency, causing the humanitarian emergency to intensify across the country.

In 2020, official remittances to Afghanistan totaled over $ 788 million, or about 4% of Afghanistan’s total GDP. According to the Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey 2016-2017 (ALCS), remittances represent a source of income for nearly one in ten Afghan households.

The emergency response must now coordinate better with Afghans abroad, IOM said.

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