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  • Afghanistan citizen's facing 'hell on earth' as winter looms in the country

The country citizens is starting to feel the very real fear of hunger.

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The weather is turning from early autumn warmth to a sharp chill. Several areas are reporting drought, which adds to the sense of growing catastrophe.

At Maidan Wardak, 50 miles west of Kabul, a crowd of several hundred men had gathered in the hope of getting flour from an official distribution point. The flour was provided by the World Food Programme.

Taliban soldiers kept the crowd reasonably quiet, but people who were told they weren't eligible for a hand-out were angry and frightened. "The winter is nearly here," said one old man. "I don't know how I'll get through it if I can't make bread."

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The WFP is faced with having to raise its supplies to Afghanistan to help more than 22 million people.

If the weather is as bad as experts are predicting this winter, the expectation is that large numbers will be threatened with acute hunger and widespread famine.

"It is as bad as you possibly can imagine," said Mr. Beasley. "In fact, we're now looking at the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth.

"Ninety-five percent of the people don't have enough food, and now we're looking at 23 million people marching towards starvation," he added. "The next six months are going to be catastrophic. It is going to be hell on Earth."


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Before the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August, there was confidence that the government of President Ashraf Ghani would be able to cope with the threat of a bad winter, given the help of the international community. That help evaporated when Mr. Ghani's government collapsed.

Western countries have cut off their aid to the country since they don't want to be seen to help a regime that bars girls from education and is in favour of reintroducing the full range of sharia punishments.

But will those countries just stand by now and allow millions of innocent people to face acute hunger? Mr. Beasley challenges the governments and the billionaires of the developed world to face up to the urgent need for help.

"To the world leaders, to the billionaires: imagine that this was your little girl or your little boy, or your grandchild about to starve to death," he said. "You would do everything you possibly could, and when there's $400 trillion worth of wealth on the earth today, shame on us."

"We let any child die from hunger. Shame on us. I don't care where that child is," he adds.

In the city of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan, wherein 2001 the Taliban destroyed the ancient and beautiful statues of the Buddha, carved into the cliffside in the 6th Century, we went to meet a widow, Fatema, and her seven children aged from three to 16.

Her husband died of stomach cancer not long ago. They are wretchedly poor and live in a cave close to the huge alcove in the cliff where one of the Buddhas used to stand.

Under the last government Fatema was able to get fairly regular supplies of flour and oil, but those stopped directly the Taliban took over.

Fatema used to make a little money weeding the soil for a nearby farmer. Now, though, the drought which has been afflicting this area means that fewer crops have survived, and there is no work for her. "I'm frightened," she says. "I've got nothing to give the children. Soon I'll have to go out and beg."

Hammed Zubair


posted 2021-11-08 13:46:53

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