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UN envoy says Afghanistan on brink of ‘humanitarian catastrophe’

The United Nations envoy for Afghanistan on Wednesday said the country is on the brink of “humanitarian catastrophe,” pointing to food scarcity and the country’s crumbling economy, and warned that extremism could arise due to current conditions.

During a press conference, Deborah Lyons said she told the U.N. Security Council that the regional and global community must continue helping Afghanistan as it heads into the winter, where pressing issues could lead to “terrible loss of life.”

“Now is not the time to turn away from the Afghan people. I stressed this to the security council, stressed the need for the regional and the global community to remain engaged in helping the people of Afghanistan as they face this very difficult winter with huge problems of not just food scarcity but a crumbling economy,” Lyons said.

“The Afghan people should not feel abandoned or forgotten by the international community, or any of the regional countries for that matter, due to the Taliban takeover. We must find ways to prevent an imminent humanitarian catastrophe and the terrible loss of life that could happen over the winter, and we can prevent it,” she added.

Conditions in Afghanistan have been on the decline since the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country following the U.S. withdrawal in August, putting the region in danger of food insecurity and other pressing issues.

A report from the U.N.’s World Food Program and Food Agriculture Organization published last month found that nearly 19 million Afghans, or 47 percent of the population, were seeing high levels of acute food insecurity between September and October of this year.

The group said the main forces driving the acute food insecurity was “drought and its impacts on crops and livestock, the collapse of public services, a severe economic crisis and increasing food prices.”

Circumstances are expected to worsen in the coming months. Between November 2021 and March of next year, roughly 22.8 million Afghans will be experiencing “high levels of acute food insecurity,” which is equivalent to 55 percent of the total population, according to the report.

A lack of international aid has contributed to the worsening conditions in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported.

Lyons on Wednesday said the main driver behind the impending humanitarian catastrophe is financial sanctions imposed on the Taliban, contending that such tolls have “paralyzed the banking system, affecting every aspect of the economy.”

She said that additional support from the regional and international community could make a “huge, live-saving difference” while also calling on “de facto authorities” in Afghanistan to respond to the concerns of individuals in the country.

“It does not have to be this way. We all recognize what is required to prevent the economic and societal collapse. We need now to work to find ways to prevent the millions of Afghans who are suffering and to counter any destabilization in the region,” she added.

Tags Afghanistan US-Afghanistan relations

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