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    Red Cross, WFP Seek International Funds For Food As Afghanistan Faces A Grim Winter

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    Red Cross, WFP Seek International Funds For Food As Afghanistan Faces A Grim Winter

    Kabul, 4 December

    Afghans are facing the worst drought and hunger crisis in living memory. Life-saving relief and supplies must reach people ahead of a harsh winter. The Red Cross and the World Food Programme have both geared up to serve the Afghan people and have sought aid from the world community.

    Afghanistan is in the grip of one of the worst droughts and food shortage crises in decades, threatening an unrivaled humanitarian catastrophe, says the says the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC).

    The Red Cross warning comes on the heels of an earlier similar warning from the World Food Programme that pointed to a desperate food situation in the country. The WFP press statement spoke of Afghans selling their homes to be able to buy food. The  looming bitter winter is certain to make life more difficult for millions of Afghans, according to IFRC.

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    Emergency food relief and winter survival kits are being urgently delivered by the Red Cross to people in areas worst affected by severe food shortages.

    Around 22.8 million people – 55 per cent of Afghanistan’s population – are experiencing high levels of acute food shortages. Severe drought has hit more than 80 percent of the country, crippling food production and forcing people from their land.

    Nearly 700,000 people have been internally displaced this year, joining some 3.5 million people already forced from their homes throughout the country, who all face a harsh winter, when temperatures can drop as low as -20C in some areas of Afghanistan.

    “Afghans have shown remarkable resilience in the face of this latest drought, growing hunger and decades of conflict,” says Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President. “Millions of people are struggling to survive due to whole-scale crop losses, acute food shortages, and a lack of cash to buy basic necessities.”

    “Afghan Red Crescent teams have not stopped helping people with relief and healthcare, but the vast majority of families remain unassisted, lacking adequate food provisions, money for the very basic needs and survival kits to get through the harsh winter months ahead,” he said.

    IFRC is providing 3,000 tonnes of food relief for 210,000 people and winter survival kits are being urgently delivered by Afghan Red Crescent in some of the hardest hit provinces for those suffering shortages and loss of income. To mitigate the misery and hardships of winter, families are being provided with winter kits, including blankets, thermal insulation and heaters but additional funding is needed to expand the humanitarian operations.

    IFRC has sought 36 million Swiss francs to support Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by severe drought and displacement.

    The IFRC appeal is in addition to the US$ 2.6 billion sought by the WFP to feed vulnerable people in Afghanistan.

    An official of the IFRC said that this is the worst drought and hunger crisis faced by Afghans in living memory. Much faster international action is needed to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the coming months.

    “People are already going hungry in Afghanistan and conditions are continuing to deteriorate. I have spoken to doctors who are reporting increased cases of acute malnutrition among children. It will only get worse in the weeks ahead.”

    As well as immediate relief, IFRC appeal funds will help with establishing more drought-resistant crops and revitalising livestock, while supporting critical income generation for women, the elderly and those most at risk of spiraling poverty.

    The appeal by the two leading humanitarian organisations comes amid growing restlessness among people across Afghanistan over the Taliban’s incompetency in dealing with the humanitarian crisis in the country.

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