Afghanistan is on the brink of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, UN agencies warned on Monday, with more than half the country facing “acute” food shortages.
More than 22 million Afghans will suffer food insecurity this winter, they said, as a drought driven by climate change adds to the disruption caused by the chaotic Taliban takeover of the country.
“This winter, millions of Afghans will be forced to choose between migration and starvation unless we can step up our life-saving assistance,” said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme.
The crisis is already bigger in scale than the shortages facing war-torn Yemen or Syria, and worse than any food insecurity emergency apart from the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said.
“Afghanistan is now among the world’s worst humanitarian crises — if not the worst — and food security has all but collapsed,” Beasley said in a statement.
“We are on a countdown to catastrophe and if we don’t act now, we will have a total disaster on our hands.”
According to the statement issued by the World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, one in two Afghans faces Phase 3 “crisis” or Phase 4 “emergency” food shortages.
Phase 4 is one step below a famine, and officials said that Afghanistan — already struggling from a 20-year civil war — is facing its worst winter in a decade.