UNICEF: Over a million Afghan children at risk of acute malnutrition
By the end of last year, half the population of the war-torn country lived under the poverty line, according to UN figures
By News Desk - May 25 2022

Photo Credit: Ebrahim Noroozi, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that 1.1 million Afghan children under the age of five are at risk of malnutrition this year.

The agency explained that this new assessment is equivalent to double the number of children exposed to acute malnutrition in Afghanistan since 2018.

The UNICEF representative in Afghanistan, Mohamed Ag Ayoya, said that the number of children under five admitted to hospitals due to severe acute malnutrition “has increased from 16,000 in March 2020 to 18,000 in March 2021.”

It subsequently jumped to 28,000 in March 2022, according to AP.

The UN report highlighted the worsening poverty in Afghanistan and the urgent need for aid, at a time when food prices are rising due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The head of the Afghanistan Medicine Service Union, Assadullah Kakar, said the poor healthcare system in Afghanistan is rapidly getting worse.

“The country’s drug stocks and reserves will run out of medicine in the next two months if nothing is done,” he noted.

Kakar cited US sanctions and the cut in international aid to the country as main factors causing the deteriorating healthcare system and shortage of medicine in Afghanistan.

“Medicine shortage is rooted in different problems. First, most world countries have stopped medicine exports to Afghanistan. Second, much of the drug importers’ money is frozen, and third, the Taliban have imposed certain restrictions on drugs imports,” he explained.

The US government placed sanctions on Afghanistan and froze nearly $10 billion of the country’s foreign reserves in August 2021, following the Taliban victory.

These two measures have devastated the economy of Afghanistan, leading to what the UN has described as the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crisis.

On 13 January, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the US to release the billions in foreign reserves that belong to Afghanistan.

The UN Chief said the continued seizure of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves is worsening the acute humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.

According to a report compiled by several UN agencies on 10 May, almost half of Afghanistan’s population, more than 19 million people, will face acute hunger.

Analysis for the report was conducted in January and February this year by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Food Programme (WFP), among other non-governmental organizations.

“The impact of high food prices, sanctions on de facto authorities, unemployment and a significant decline in incomes and community purchasing power are the main impediments to an improvement in the post-harvest situation,” FAO representative  Richard Trenchard said.

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