Hunger Is Afghanistan’s Foremost Problem

On September 9, the United Nations reported that 97 percent of Afghan civilians could plunge into poverty by mid-2022. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Afghanistan’s GDP will shrink by 13.2 percent. According to the World Food Program (WFP), 60% of the population in the northern provinces of Afghanistan is currently suffering from hunger, and this figure will increase by 70% in the next two months. Previously, most aid organizations had warned of impending humanitarian crises in Afghanistan.

This is the reality of Afghanistan today. International aid has been cut off since the fall of the regime, and providing humanitarian assistance has been challenged ever since. The Central Bank of Afghanistan’s $10 billion foreign exchange reserves has been frozen in the United States. Most of the aid that was supposed to be used to fight the Coronavirus and other fundamental problems in Afghanistan has been suspended by aid groups.

The army affiliated with the previous regime has been marginalized, and former soldiers do not know how to provide food for their families. It is clear that most of them have not been paid for months and are still being rejected. Some of them may have so little money in their account that if the situation continues like this, their savings will run out and they will no longer have a way to feed their family members.

Unemployment in Afghanistan has also reached its peak. In addition to the lack of job opportunities, most government employees have lost their jobs. Moreover, some people who go to work are not sure whether they will receive their salaries or not. Most of them were in charge of a family and now, besides hunger, they have to deal with depression as well.

The future of families who do not have financial support or whose head of household has lost their jobs is still unclear. The city has become full of people who wander around from dawn to dusk to find a piece of bread. The number of working children has increased unprecedentedly. In addition, the number of beggars in the Afghan capital has risen dramatically.

Continuation of this situation will have destructive consequences. Poverty will lead to insurmountable problems. Right now, most people who try to go abroad by accepting the risk are actually worried about their future; Because they are afraid that their savings will run out and they will no longer be able to feed their family members. With the little money they have, they want to look for a safe place abroad to provide alimony for their families.

Poverty is also a major cause of child malnutrition in the country. Omar Abdi, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who recently visited Kabul, said that an estimated one million children in Afghanistan would suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2021 and could die if urgent greater action was not taken in Afghanistan. Two million children are currently at risk of malnutrition. 14 million citizens do not have food security and more than 18 million more need urgent help. This year alone, more than 700,000 people have been displaced by war and drought, bringing the total to about four million. Due to rising unemployment and famine, the number of people at risk of starvation is increasing every day.

One of the dangers of poverty is the increase in crime rates. Hungry people do anything to find a piece of bread. For the hungry, it no longer matters how food is obtained. They are just trying to find food in any way possible. Eventually, this will lead people in need to commit theft, looting of public property, murder and other crimes that will rip apart the fabric of society.

Unfortunately, there has been no hope of eradicating poverty in the country. The rulers of the previous regime emptied the state treasury before fleeing the country. At the current moment, the Taliban government has not set a plan to meet the needs of the people.

Poverty in Afghanistan is ultimately catastrophic, and before the situation spiral out of control, the international community and charities need to start planning and working to prevent the famine from occurring.