Approximately one-third of Afghanistan’s population is grappling with acute food insecurity, a situation that has been exacerbated by a recent sequence of earthquakes in the country’s war-torn northwestern region.
According to the figures released by the World Food Program (WPF) on World Food Day, over 15 million people face acute food insecurity, with 2.8 million in emergency levels (one step away from famine).
“We remind the world that in Afghanistan, 15 million people don’t know where their next meal comes from,” the global body said in a statement on X on Monday.
“That is 1/3 of the population,” it added.
Even before the powerful deadly earthquakes that jolted northwestern Herat province which borders neighboring Iran, nearly 29 million people — two-thirds of the Afghan population — needed humanitarian aid and protection in 2023.
The number is up from 24.4 million in 2022 and 18.4 million in 2021.
Since the Taliban returned to power over two years ago, Afghanistan has been facing grave economic challenges.
It comes amid a blockade of around $7 billion Afghan foreign reserves by the US since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021.
“The Herat earthquake(s) is yet another disaster on top of an already dire humanitarian crisis. Afghans need urgent support,” the WFP added.
Humanitarian aid continues to pour in
As the country is struggling to cope with the post-earthquake situation, humanitarian assistance continues to pour in.
A Chinese plane carrying humanitarian aid for earthquake victims worth 30 million yuan (approximately $4.1 million) landed in Kabul on Monday, state-run Bakhtar News reported.
The Afghan government has revised the death toll to over 1,000.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Afghanistan, however, put the death toll at 1,384, with 853 injured. Over 2,500 houses have been completely destroyed.
Some 3,067 houses were also affected by the tremors, including 2,499 completely destroyed.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the deadly earthquakes have affected over 43,000 people.
“318,000 people need humanitarian assistance following the Herat earthquake of whom 76,000+ are women and girls of reproductive age while 7,400+ are currently pregnant,” United Nations Population Fund in Afghanistan said on X.
Afghanistan is frequently struck by tremors, mainly in the Hindukush mountain range, which sits near the confluence of Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.