ReportageAs Afghan central bank funds have been frozen since the Taliban took power, hospitals are unable to function. More than three million children under 5 face acute malnutrition.
In Boost Hospital, in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, each bed in the pediatric unit is occupied by two children. At the beginning of November, like everywhere in Afghanistan, resources are limited and the influx of patients is unprecedented. Fatima, 20, a mother of four, sits on the edge of one of these beds, where her frail three-month-old daughter sleeps. She doesn’t have a first name yet. “Here, we do not choose names for our children until we are sure that they will survive. And my daughter can’t breathe well ”, explains the young mother. For the past seven days, she has been closely monitoring the health of her newborn baby who, like millions of Afghan children, suffers from acute malnutrition. “All diseases can develop in him”, explains a doctor from the Boost hospital, supported by the French NGO Médecins sans frontières (MSF).
The neighborhood where Fatima lives, in the suburb of Lashkar Gah, has regained calm since the end of the fighting between the ex-Kabul regime and the Taliban, the new masters of the country. But life is not any easier. “We have nothing to eat”, she complains. Her husband, a day laborer, was injured in an accident and can no longer work. Normally, their family could have asked relatives for help. But since the fall of Kabul on August 15 and the Taliban seizure of power, many employees have not been paid. Many former government workers (military, ministry employees, especially women) were fired. For lack of income, the self-employed were forced to go out of business. Fatima and her husband no longer eat meat or fruit. They mainly eat potatoes, which complicates breastfeeding. His case is far from isolated.
“Need a lifeline”
According to the latest report from the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), dated November 8, more than half of the population – some 22.8 million people out of a population of 38 million – now face acute food insecurity, and nearly 9 million people are at risk of starvation. In October, the UN assured that more than three million children under the age of 5 had to face acute malnutrition. Finally, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) had warned a month earlier that, without immediate treatment, a million children risked dying of malnutrition. “It’s as bad as you can imagine. In fact, we are now witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis on earth. No less than 95% of people do not have enough food ”, WFP Executive Director David Beasley warned on November 8 on the BBC.
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In Afghanistan, “the worst humanitarian crisis on earth”