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Afghanistan’s dwindling food supplies pose hunger risk, WFP says

Published 27 Aug,2021 via Bloomberg Markets - Afghans are at risk of hunger with food supplies dwindling amid ongoing conflict and adverse weather, the United Nations’ World Food Programme warned.

Families are especially vulnerable this year and unable to make basic preparations for winter after being hit by a combination of several droughts, conflict and the socioeconomic impacts of Covid-19, according to Anthea Webb, the WFP’s deputy regional director for Asia and the Pacific. As winter comes, some communities will be cut off completely from markets and the agency will be their only lifeline.

“The situation in Afghanistan bears all the hallmarks of a humanitarian catastrophe,” Webb said in response to questions from Bloomberg News. “Without humanitarian aid, such as WFP food, there will be more hunger and desperation. If food becomes scarce inside the country, people are more likely to leave.”

The WFP needs to procure 54,000 tons of food before winter, double what it has secured for the country so far. The organization has only 28% of the 40,000 tons of wheat flour it needs for October and then from November, it has almost no wheat flour, cooking oil, salt or pulses, Webb said.

Even before the takeover by the Taliban, Afghanistan faced severe food issues, with a total 14 million people going hungry, or about a third of the country’s population. Some 40% of crops have already been lost to drought, while the cost of a bag of wheat flour is 24% higher than the five-year average, the WFP said.

Despite the challenges, the WFP has been able to reach 150,000 people with food assistance since Aug. 15. It needs $200 million to deliver assistance, it said earlier this week.

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