UNICEF sounds alarm over looming child malnutrition crisis in Afghanistan
Washington has repeatedly ignored calls to lift its sanctions on Kabul and ease the country's humanitarian crisis
By News Desk - January 25 2022

File image. Afghan children play outside their home in a camp for internally displaced families in Kabul, Afghanistan on 18 January, 2021 (Photo credit: AP/Rhamat Gul)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on 23 January that the international community needs to take quick action to save millions of Afghan children who are at risk of severe malnutrition.

The UN agency warned that if no measures are taken to address the deteriorating situation, more than one million children in Afghanistan could die from hunger before the end of 2022.

The organization also said that the world needs to commit more financial and human resources into tackling the looming catastrophe in Afghanistan.

Afghan health workers, according to UNICEF, are over-stretched and exhausted due to the low staffing levels. The organization also lamented that most of the health workers have endured months without receiving their salaries due to the economic crisis in the country.

Afghanistan is currently experiencing what the UN has described as the fastest growing humanitarian crisis in the world.

The crisis was triggered by sanctions that Washington imposed on the country when the Taliban took over power and the US chaotically ended its 20 year-long occupation of the country in August 2021.

The US sanctions have not only limited the sources of income for the government but have also made it difficult for humanitarian organizations to receives funds they need for their operations.

In addition to the unilateral sanctions, the US government has also blocked the Taliban government from accessing billions of Afghan funds held in foreign financial institutions.

In December 2021, the US granted a waiver to allow the World Bank to transfer about $280 million to the World Food Programme and UNICEF for their humanitarian programs in Afghanistan.

However, stakeholders have said this amount is too little, considering the severity of the crisis and the fact that nearly $10 billion Afghan funds remain frozen in western banks.

The situation has been exacerbated by successive droughts that have hit several regions of the country leading to poor harvests.

The UN estimates that more than half of the population of Afghanistan is food insecure.

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