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Action Against Hunger today warns of the devastating potential consequences of making international assistance conditional and continuing the suspension of key donors in Afghanistan. These impediments to delivering humanitarian aid raise concerns about its sustainability and capacity to cope with increasing needs and the ongoing hunger crisis. Funding that saves and improves lives must not be cut or used as a bargaining chip in negotiations.
Prior to the change in government in August 2021, international support was vital to pay salaries and operate essential programs in Afghanistan, including those run by the government. Since then, the suspension of key donors, such as the World Bank, which funds much of the country’s health services, raises concerns about the sustainability of the Afghan health system and, more globally, the capacity of the humanitarian organizations to provide vital services to the most vulnerable people.
The food and nutrition crisis will not stop with the end of the winter. At the contrary. Afghans will face a harsh lean season and the food stocks they rely on are already very low. Anticipated economic crisis and recurrent droughts will have a compounding effect, making 2022 a very challenging year for Afghanistan.
“At the upcoming international pledging conference on March 31st, donors must not shift away attention from Afghanistan or not politicize the funding of humanitarian aid. This is essential to ensure people can have access to vital services in the coming months and let NGO work according to International Humanitarian Laws” explained Dr. Pierre Micheletti, Action Against Hunger President.
Humanitarian exemptions to international sanctions, such as those included in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2615 and in US, UK, and EU legislation, are essential to facilitate timely humanitarian action in Afghanistan. However, bank closures and lack of cash are still making it nearly impossible to withdraw money and pay staff and suppliers. Humanitarians are concerned that international bank transfers will slow down or become impossible. They also fear supply chains will be disrupted and operations will be at risk.
“We need to acknowledge that international sanctions have resulted in the freezing of assets and have contributed to cash shortages and a liquidity crisis. This has also brought uncertainty to humanitarian operations as we also rely on the private sector to procure lifesaving supplies,” said Jean-François Riffaud, Action Against Hunger CEO.
Political international tensions over the last seven months have resulted in an unprecedented economic crisis that must be urgently addressed to prevent the collapse of the Afghan economy. Concerted action must be taken now to address the liquidity crisis, limited job opportunities, and increasing prices of basic commodities, including imported goods and food, in full compliance with Impartiality of NGO work.
More than 24 million people now need humanitarian assistance, an alarming increase of 35 percent compared to the previous year. Estimates for this month project that nearly 23 million people are likely suffering from acute food insecurity, including 8 million Afghans who face emergency levels of hunger. Reports indicate that 95% of the population, and almost of all female-headed households, do not have enough food to eat.
Action Against Hunger has worked in Afghanistan since 1995 to improve access to health and nutrition services for the most vulnerable people in remote areas. Our teams provide health, nutrition, food security, water hygiene and sanitation support in Kabul, Daykundi, Helmand, Ghor, and Badakhshan provinces.
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