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Malnutrition Taking A Heavy Toll On Newborns In Afghanistan

Women sit with their babies receiving treatment for malnutrition at a Doctors Without Borders nutrition center in the western Afghan city of Herat.

More than 13,700 newborns have died this year in Afghanistan from malnutrition and hunger-related diseases, a figure that Human Rights Watch (HRW) says indicates that "time is running out for children" amid a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Citing the statistics issued by the Taliban's acting Health Ministry earlier this week, HRW on March 18 called for the establishment of a functioning banking system to address the crisis.

While acknowledging that many countries had sent funding and humanitarian aid, the international rights watchdog lamented that restrictions on Afghanistan's central bank were still making large transactions or withdrawals impossible.

"Without ensuring that funds are being used for legitimate humanitarian and commercial purposes, it will be impossible to ease the crisis and help Afghanistan's most vulnerable children," HRW said in its daily brief on March 18.

Afghanistan is dealing with what the United Nations has called a "food-insecurity and malnutrition crisis of unparalleled proportions."

Drought, instability, and the loss of foreign aid ahead of the Taliban's takeover have been named as contributing factors to the crisis.

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