The international aid and development organisation said the country was facing one of the worst droughts seen in decades, was dealing with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as decades of political instability and chronic poverty.
“The situation in Afghanistan right now is extremely serious,” said Melville Fernandez, Caritas Australia’s Humanitarian Emergencies associate director.
“Since August last year the country has actually deteriorated even further – crops are withering, and a brutal winter has pushed even more people into poverty. The economy is imploding, and the United Nations Development Program anticipates that without urgent action, 97 per cent of the population will be pushed into extreme poverty by the end of June.
“We’re looking at an incredibly dire situation.
“It’s likely that 22.8 million people – half of the population – will be acutely food insecure this year, leaving 4.7 million children, pregnant and lactating women at risk of acute malnutrition, according to the World food Program. This means that Afghanistan is home to the largest population experiencing such extreme levels of hunger in the world.”
In addition to this, the pandemic has overwhelmed Afghanistan’s health system, with only five hospitals in the country still offering COVID-19 treatment. In recent months 33 hospitals have been forced to close due to chronic shortages of doctors, medicines and fuel for heating. Less than 27 per cent of the population is vaccinated.
Mr Fernandez said Caritas Australia is working closely with its partner on the ground, CRS, which is providing emergency cash assistance, food security support and education to the most drought-affected rural communities.
Caritas Australia is currently raising funds to support communities in Afghanistan. For more information visit caritas.org.au/donate/emergency-appeals/afghanistan/ or call 1800 024 413 toll free .Jump to next article