Afghanistan: UN warns on collapse of basic services and food and medical shortages

At least 11 million Afghans are in need of food aid and health assistance, says the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Anuj Pant
Tuesday 07 September 2021 13:04 BST
UN says basic services in Afghanistan are collapsing

Afghanistan’s basic services are on the verge of collapse, a United Nations agency warned on Tuesday as it launched a flash appeal of $600m (£435m) for humanitarian aid in the nation.

Eleven million Afghans needed health assistance and food aid, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The Taliban takeover has led to an exodus of government employees across the country and plunged it into an economic crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and drought conditions.

More than a million people have also been displaced internally, while more than half of the children under the age of five are expected to face malnutrition, according to OCHA.

“Basic services in Afghanistan are collapsing and food and other lifesaving aid is about to run out,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said, ahead of an international aid conference on Afghanistan on 13 September.

Local UN humanitarian coordinator Ramiz Alakbarov warned: “The lean winter season is fast approaching, and without additional funding, food stocks will run out at the end of September.”

The Taliban now face the challenge of alleviating these problems for a country that relies on international aid.

But the country’s foreign reserves – potentially a source of funding for the Taliban – are held abroad and have been frozen.

Afghanistan needs $1.3bn (£943m) to help 16 million people, according to a 2021 humanitarian response plan that was consolidated by OCHA - and only 40 per cent of the goals in this plan have been met, according to the organisation, leaving a deficit of $766m (£556m).

Additional reporting by agencies

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