9801Millions of Afghans Face Starvation
- Nov 1, 2008An estimated 8.4 million Afghans are now suffering from 'chronic and
transitory food insecurity. (Google)
Millions of Afghans Face Starvation
By IOL Staff
CAIRO With a combination of a summer drought, poor irrigation and
rising global food prices, a famine is unveiling in Afghanistan with
third of Afghans are suffering chronic food insecurity, a British
think-tank warned on Friday, October 31.
"While the eyes of the world have focused on violence which is
increasingly terrorist in character, an estimated 8.4 million
Afghans, perhaps a third of the nation, are now suffering
from 'chronic and transitory food insecurity'," Royal United Services
Institute (RUSI) analyst Paul Smyth said in a press briefing on its
"Whatever the effect of insurgent violence on the UN-mandated mission
in Afghanistan, it is widespread hunger and malnutrition that will
place a greater obstacle in its progress."
RUSI said that many Afghan have already started migrating from their
areas in search of food.
"Some are eating grass and a tiny number have died of starvation."
British charity Oxfam warned earlier this year that around five
million Afghans are facing food shortages.
RUSI warned that a famine will blow out when the snowy winter season
"When temperatures plummet and snow cloaks the Hindu Kush, millions
of desperate Afghans will look to the UN, ISAF and their own
government for help or survival.
"If the international community is found wanting, we can expect
increasing frustration and anger from a population which once saw the
international intervention in Afghanistan as a source of hope."
Nearly 1,700 Afghans died in the severe winter last year.
RUSI suggests an airlift similar to the Berlin Airlift in the 1940s
to prevent the starvation of millions of poor Afghans.
"Exactly sixty years ago, the Berlin Airlift was underway. It brought
food to millions and prevented a strategic defeat," it said.
"Today, a much smaller, yet strategically significant operation could
have similar effect in Afghanistan."
The UN World Food Program said in August that 25,000 tons of food
were urgently needed in Afghanistan before the winter season.
"Ahead of the deterioration in winter weather lays a window of
opportunity for the international community to mount an intensive air
operation to deliver life-saving aid to Afghanistan," said Smyth.
"To maintain its credibility and moral authority to act in
Afghanistan the international community must take timely, concerted
and effective action."
Days after the 9/11 attacks, the United States invaded Afghanistan to
topple the ruling Taliban.
Despite the deployment of 64,000 foreign troops under US and NATO
command, violence has soared over the past years.
A high-profile US intelligence report has concluded earlier this
month that Afghanistan is on a "downward spiral" due to rising
violence and official corruption.
"Afghanistan may be on the brink of a calamity which has the
potential to undermine much of the progress which has been achieved
there," said RUSI.
"Help must come from farther afield, swiftly, and to any part of the
country. An airlift meets these demands."
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