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Afghanistan On Brink Of Economic Collapse, Norwegian Aid Agency NRC Warns

Afghans wait in front of a bank as they try to withdraw money in Kabul on September 12.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has warned Afghanistan's economy is on the verge of collapse and the country faces a humanitarian catastrophe after the collapse of the government last month and subsequent takeover by Taliban militants.

“Afghanistan’s economy is spiraling out of control. The formal banking system could collapse any day now because of a lack of cash. I’ve spoken to families who tell me they are surviving on tea and small scraps of old bread," NRC Secretary-General Jan Egeland said during a visit to Kabul on September 27.

Following the collapse of the Western-backed government last month in the face of a blitz offensive by the Taliban, many governments froze Afghanistan's assets and aid as they weighed what stance to adopt toward the new rulers, prompting a worsening of the economic situation and leaving millions struggling to afford skyrocketing prices.

Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people are in desperate need of shelter, clothing, and food to survive the coming winter, Egeland said.

“We are in a race against the clock to save lives before the harsh winter arrives and temperatures drop to as low as -20 degrees Celsius. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people urgently need shelter, warm clothes and food in the coming weeks."

Since January, more than 664,000 people across Afghanistan have been displaced, which brings the total number of internally displaced people to 3.5 million, NRC said in a statement.

According to the statement, one out of every three citizens in the country is “acutely hungry," and more than 93 percent of Afghan households did not have sufficient food in the past week, according to the latest WFP phone surveys.

“Donors must focus on providing fast and efficient solutions to delivering urgent aid for children, women, and men that simply cannot wait any longer,” it added.

The statement said more than 18 million out of the country’s estimated 32 million inhabitants rely on humanitarian aid to survive.

Earlier this month, the international community pledged more than $1.2 billion in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan was heavily dependent on international funding for the last 20 years, with three-quarters of the entire public spending budget coming from aid.

With reporting by dpa
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