Afghanistan | Famine is “imminent”, warns the UN

(New York) “The situation in Afghanistan is alarming” and the threat of famine is “imminent” with the approach of winter and the disorganization of services with the return of the Taliban to power, the director of the warned in an interview with AFP the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Natalia Kanem.

Posted on Sep 25, 2021 at 1:33 pm

Ana FERNANDEZ Agence France-Presse

“At least a third of the country’s population is at risk of impending famine,” warned Ms. Kanem, who is particularly concerned about the violence “now affecting women and girls,” especially displaced women.

In their view, the harshness of winter, which is hindering the proper functioning of transport, and the pandemic will make an already difficult situation worse.

“There are many concerns about how we can treat and feed people,” warned this Panamanian doctor at UNFPA headquarters in New York.

In this context, the first victims will be women.

“We cannot stress enough that women and girls have rights that must be respected even in this transition period,” she warned, recalling that Afghanistan was already “one of the countries with the highest birth and pregnancy mortality rates” in the world.

PHOTO ESKINDER DEBEBE, ARCHIVED PRESS

The women of Afghanistan have made it clear for years that they have their education, their health care and also the willingness, will and ability to design programs to lead their communities.

Natalia Kanem, Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Despite the Taliban’s promises to be more open and less violent than during their first regime (1996-2001), the signs for women are not very encouraging.

On the one hand, they seem less rigorous, seem to bother women on the street less and allow them to study. On the other hand, they are abolishing the Ministry of Women, replacing it with men in certain administrations, and re-establishing same-sex status at the university.

Natalia Kanem recalled that in an Afghanistan ravaged by decades of conflict, women are the only breadwinners, especially in the areas most severely affected by violence.

PHOTO BULENT KILIC, FRANCE PRESS AGENCY

Women wearing burqas wait with their children on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Therefore “we really hope to be able to supply people living in small communities with goods and goods” and “to maintain a functioning health system”.

The UN official admits that the goal is “difficult” to achieve “when the airport is closed” and “some professionals have left the country”.

“If the health system collapses, it will be a total disaster,” Ms. Kanem is still alarmed. The United Nations on Wednesday released $ 45 million in emergency aid for the health system in Afghanistan.

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