Hunger rising in Afghanistan at alarming rate: UN

Afghan men and children reach out for food donated by a charity in Mazar-i-sharif on January 22, 2015.  (AFP Photo)

Afghan men and children reach out for food donated by a charity in Mazar-i-sharif on January 22, 2015

The number of Afghan people without enough to eat has increased at an “alarming” rate over the past year, says a report.

The 2015 Seasonal Food Security Assessment in Afghanistan, which was compiled by the United Nations and partner agencies, was released by the Afghan Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) on Thursday.

According to the report, 5.9 percent of Afghans are now deprived of food, up from 4.7 percent recorded 12 months ago.

The total number of those classed as severely food insecure currently stands at over 1.5 million, up 317,000 this year, the report added.

This is while another 7.3 million people – more than one in four Afghan citizens – are moderately food insecure.

“These figures are extremely alarming, especially in a country where more than one third of all people are already food insecure. This report could [be] portent [of] a future spike in the next 12 months in the need for food and other humanitarian assistance,” said Claude Jibidar, Country Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Afghanistan.

Afghan men and children hold up dishes to receive food donated by a private charity in Herat on January 3, 2015

Abdul Majid, FSAC coordinator, also expressed concern over the statistics, saying, “It is the last resort when farmers start selling productive assets such as livestock, machinery or land.”

Tomio Shichiri, the representative of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Afghanistan, warned that many Afghans will not be able to purchase food from the market despite a surge in wheat production this year.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed Taliban from power, but many areas in the country are still beset with insecurity, which has taken a heavy toll on various sectors of the Afghan society, including economy and agriculture.

At least 13,500 foreign forces remain in Afghanistan despite the end of the US-led combat mission, which came on December 31, 2014. Afghan security forces have been engaged in various clean-up operations, but the war-torn Asian country is still gripped by the Taliban-led militancy and violence.

(Source / 10.09.2015)

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