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Billions In Aid Needed To Help Afghan Children This Year, Says Charity

An Afghan child looks for plastic and other items, which can be used as a replacement for firewood, at a garbage dump in Kabul. (file photo)

As many as 10 million Afghan children are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said on January 19, calling for billions of dollars in aid.

Save the Children said in a statement that more than 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are in dire need of lifesaving support, including food. The group called for $3 billion in donations to pay for assistance this year.

Afghans are suffering from a combination of violent conflict, poverty, and the coronavirus pandemic. "It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community," said Chris Nyamandi, the London-based organization's Afghanistan country director.

Afghanistan has seen a spike in violence despite prospective peace talks between the government and the Taliban, while the pandemic has also had a catastrophic effect on millions of Afghan families.

The pandemic hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation last year, according to a World Bank estimate.

Widespread corruption and lawlessness have also impacted on the war-wracked country’s poor economy.

Nyamandi said that, with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long war, millions of people will continue to suffer. "It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he added.

Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is compounded by insufficient humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November.

"Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people," he said.

Save the Children said in a report published last month that more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could cause to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating.

The group provided winter kits -- including fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats -- to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, compared to some 2.3 million who needed lifesaving assistance last year, UN Secretary-General spokesman Stephane Dujarric said this month.

"It’s a huge increase in people who need aid," Dujarric said.

The UN says that almost 6,000 people -- one-third of them children -- were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year.

With reporting by AP
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