Afghanistan faces collapse of health services and mass hunger

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns that Afghanistan faces imminent collapse of health services and widespread hunger if aid and money do not flow into the country within weeks.

Acute food shortages fuelled by serious drought, lack of cash and displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic and crippled health services have converged on the people of Afghanistan, with some 18 million Afghans in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

Speaking from Kabul where he has been on a four-day official visit, Alexander Matheou, IFRC Asia Pacific Director said:

“After living through decades of fleeing and fighting, Afghans now face a severe drought which has devastated food production, leaving millions hungry and destitute.

“We are deeply concerned that Afghanistan faces imminent collapse of health services and worsening hunger if aid and money do not flow into the country within weeks. Health financing has been cut across the country placing ever more demand on Red Crescent teams.

“Urgent international action is needed to support millions of people with the necessities of life as Afghanistan’s looming harsh winter threatens greater misery and hardships.”

Afghan Red Crescent is providing support in some of the hardest hit provinces, including relief supplies to families suffering food shortages and loss of income. Red Crescent has been providing families who have lost their livelihoods due to the drought with cash grants to buy food, to plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock. Health clinics, including mobile teams of doctors and nurses, are providing critical care across Afghanistan.

As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 36 million Swiss francs to support Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by severe drought and displacement.

“Afghan Red Crescent has a long history of helping people living in areas other agencies are unable to reach. Red Crescent teams are ramping up critical maternal and child healthcare, food assistance and other emergency relief, but much more support is needed.”

“IFRC appeal funds will be used to help with sustainable water supplies, establishing more drought-resistant crops and revitalising livestock, while supporting critical income generation for those most at risk of spiralling poverty, including women and the elderly.”

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