Without outside assistance, a drought and a 17-year conflict will force at least three million Afghans to face famine, the United Nations said Monday, calling for immediate foreign aid.
Afghanistan’s U.N. humanitarian coordinator Toby Lanzer, told AFP, “Those people are surviving on less than one meal a day and in all likelihood that meal is bread and tea.”
With one of the highest hunger rates in the world, the U.N. official said that at least eight million people are considered to be seriously malnourished, while another three million are close to famine.
"No child should be in the cold, sleeping on the ground, sheltered by only a sheet with holes in it. But that’s reality for thousands of kids displaced by conflict and drought in #Afghanistan. We’re here to help, and everyone needs to step up before Winter’s bite," Lanzer wrote on his personal Twitter account.
Fortified flour, vegetable oils, and lentils among other supplies were sent to some 600,000 people by aid organizations, Lanzer said. However, new statistics show the situation is “far worse” than anticipated and both national and foreign aid groups are struggling to meet demand.
"For many (people) it is the worst situation they have suffered in their lives. … If we don't (reach them) there's a risk that these people go into level 5 (famine)," Lanzer said, calling for an urgent response from the international community.
Heavy rains and an untimely snowfall last winter triggered the country’s “worst drought in living memory” and has wreaked destruction and devastation on farming families, their livestock, food and water supplies, as well as forcing them from their homes.
For its part, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Afghanistan said that this situation surpasses that in South Sudan, which, according to the Global Food Security Index, is somewhere between a level three or four with less than 6 million struggling with food security.