The U.N.’s food agency announced on Tuesday that, due to a significant funding shortfall, it must cut food assistance to an additional 2 million famished Afghanistan this month.
The World Food Programme said in a statement that 10 million people will be cut off from the agency’s support in the country this year. The new adjustments will allow the agency to provide food assistance to approximately one-fifth of the 15 million Afghanistan in need, according to the agency.
“Amid already worrying levels of hunger and malnutrition, we are obliged to choose between the hungry and the starving, leaving millions of families scrambling for their next meal,” said Hsiao-Wei Lee, WFP’s director in Afghanistan. “With the few resources we have left, we are not able to serve all those people teetering on the edge of utter destitution.”
The Taliban pledged a more moderate form of government than during their previous control in the 1990s. But since seizing Afghanistan in August 2021, as U.S. and NATO forces were withdrawing after two decades of conflict, they have imposed severe measures.
The Taliban have prohibited Afghan women from working for local and non-governmental organizations, among other actions. In the aftermath of the Taliban takeover in August 2021 and the subsequent economic collapse, aid organizations have been providing sustenance, education, and health care to Afghans.
In April, the prohibition was extended to United Nations employees. The measures have sparked an intense international backlash, further isolating the country at a time when its economy is collapsing and its humanitarian crisis is worsening.
WFP Forced to Halt Food Aid for 8 Million People in April and May
In April and May, the WFP reported that it was compelled to shut off food assistance for 8 million people.
WFP is frequently the last lifeline for women, who are being increasingly pushed out of society and have dwindling opportunities to earn a livelihood and sustain their children.
According to the program, as a result of the adjustments declared on Tuesday, 1,4 million pregnant women and their children no longer receive specialized food designed to prevent malnutrition. WFP expects to see a steep increase in admissions to nutrition centers in the months to come as children decline deeper into hunger.
“A small window of opportunity remains to avert catastrophe in Afghanistan, but we are running out of time,” said Lee. “The cost of inaction will be paid by the most vulnerable women and children.”
WFP requires $1 billion over the next six months to reach 21 million people with vital food and nutrition assistance. This includes funds to provide sustenance to communities that will be cut off during the severe winter in Afghanistan, according to the statement.