Step up now before its too late: WFP Chief appeals for urgent action in Afghanistan as winter approaches
Excerpts from ED David Beasley at High-Level Ministerial Event on Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan – Geneva, 13 Sept 2021
“14 million people – 1-in-3 – are marching to the brink of starvation – they don’t know where their next meal is. And on top of that, you have 14 million people in IPC 2 that are knocking on that same door, so if we’re not very careful we could truly enter the abyss and see catastrophic conditions – worse than what we see now. In fact, 3 out of 4 people in Afghanistan are already engaged in food-related coping strategies. What we’re seeing is back-to-back drought, years of conflict, covid, economic deterioration, lack of cash, in fact 40% of the wheat crop this year has been lost, and I could just keep going. Cooking oil has doubled in price. All of these things make for a bad situation for all the people in Afghanistan.
We need an additional US$ 200 million.
Here’s what I’m extremely concerned about. We have 4 million people in very difficult areas to reach when the winter season hits in a couple of months – if we don’t preposition food in those areas we will face a catastrophe.
The time is now, we cannot wait 6 months – we need the funds immediately so we can move the supplies, to preposition before the winter sets in. We cannot turn our back on the people of Afghanistan.
We have 467 employees on the ground in Afghanistan - they are putting their lives on the line every day to make sure that people don’t suffer.
We are working with relevant authorities to make sure we get the access that we need, but also to ensure that all of our women staff can continue to work all throughout the country - and at the same time we want to continue providing school meals to make sure that little boys and little girls get healthy school meals.
When you understand that 40% of the GDP comes from foreign aid, and 75% of public spending is from international funding, you begin to see that while the crisis we face today is great, if we’re not careful and we’re not strategic, we could face mass migration, destabilization in the region, and for certain starvation for millions of Afghan people.
So we’ve got a lot of work to do – I’ll be back in the region in a couple of weeks. Our teams will continue to collaborate and work together with the entire UN and NGO community. And we’ll be pushing the limit to make sure we can reach every single person possible.
Please step up and step up now so that we can do our job.”
# # #
The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media @wfp_AsiaPacific