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UN Aid Chief Warns 6 Million Afghans Are At Risk Of Famine Amid Growing Crisis

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths (file photo)

The UN's humanitarian chief has urged donors to restore funding for Afghanistan, warning that 6 million Afghans are at risk of famine while more than half of the country’s 39 million people need humanitarian help.

"Poverty is deepening, the population is still growing, and the de facto authorities have no budget to invest in their own future. It's clear to us that some development support needs to be restarted," Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council on August 29.

The Taliban returned to power in August 2021 after the U.S.-led international coalition withdrew from the country and the previous government quickly collapsed. The international community has not recognized their government, which has crushed women’s rights.

Since the Taliban takeover, international assistance, which accounted for 80 percent of Afghanistan’s budget, has dried up.

The Taliban has been subjected to international sanctions, which the United Nations and aid groups say are now hindering humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan's de facto authorities must also do their part. Bureaucratic interferences and procedures slow down humanitarian assistance when it is needed most. Female humanitarian aid workers...must be allowed to work unhindered and securely. And girls must be allowed to continue their education," Griffiths said.

Despite the challenges, he said UN agencies and their NGO partners have mounted “an unprecedented response" over the past year, reaching almost 23 million people.

But he said $614 million was urgently required to prepare for winter including repairing and upgrading shelters and providing warm clothes and blankets, He also said that an additional $154 million is needed to arrange food and other supplies before the weather cuts access to certain areas.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters