No more rice, not a drop of oil

Women leave a WFP distribution point in the suburbs with food rations. The rations consist of wheat flour, peas, oil and salt for each family.

Marco de lauro/WFP/dpa

Winter is approaching in Afghanistan, but stores are empty in many homes. In order to survive the winter, heads of families resort to radical means.

After five months of no income at Fred Chan’s home in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, there is no longer a grain of rice, not a drop of oil, and not a piece of bread.

The former police spokesman in Nangarhar province had already sold his refrigerator and television. He went through the contacts on his phone and finally sent out requests for help a few days ago. “My wife and I endure hardship and hunger,” he wrote. “But my little kids don’t, and that hurts me so much.”

Like Chan, there are now millions of Afghans, and the number is growing. Even before the country fell to the hardline Islamist Taliban movement, the situation was precarious. Since the Islamists took charge in Kabul, most members of the previous government have fled abroad, foreign aid and state reserves have been frozen, the country has hit one of the worst droughts in decades, and hundreds of thousands of people have died. poverty. With devastating effects: According to UN figures, more than half of Afghans will not have enough to eat by November.

despair in the population

This ordeal is making Afghans increasingly desperate for solutions to make ends meet with their families. The story of 55-year-old Roshshana from central Ghor province recently hit the local media. The woman had publicly announced that she would sell her two granddaughters. She wanted 200,000 afghanis for the girl Senat and 150,000 afghanis for Siba (2,000 or 1,530 francs), she told a relative by phone. She has to take care of her daughter-in-law and eight grandchildren by herself and doesn’t know how the family will survive the winter.

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The country’s political turmoil has turned the lives of many upside down. Lost his knights, a 34-year-old widow from Kabul With the takeover of the Taliban She was working as a nanny when her employers left the country. Omid Abdullah Min Wardak lost his job as a cook because his boss – the leader of the collapsed national army – was expelled by the Americans. Enajat from the remote northeastern district of Wachan was sent to Kabul by his family with borrowed money, hoping he could at least get some money in the capital.

They all say: No matter what you try, there is no more work. They all say they now owe tens of thousands of Afghanis to banks, landlords or merchants. No idea how to pay it off. Oftentimes, Enajat does not answer when his father calls from the provinces and asks if he can find any money. He continues: Many have left the country. But he also lacks the money to do so.

Archive - 02.10.2021, Afghanistan, Herat: HANDOUT - An employee of a World Food Program partner of the World Food Program distributes food items in the suburbs.  The rations consist of wheat flour, peas, oil and salt for each family.  (to dpa
An employee of a World Food Program (WFP) partner distributes food in the suburbs.

Marco de lauro/WFP/dpa

More people are cycling

The economic crisis and growing hunger can now be seen on the streets of Afghan cities. Local media reported that there are more bikes on the road again in Kabul. Today, residents of the capital say, there are people begging in front of almost every bakery in Kabul. At the same time, more and more people were trying to sell all their belongings – from furniture to screws – on the street.

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Niksad Omari from Kabul explains that it reminds him of the first Taliban regime in the 1990s, and that the situation was dire even back then. At the time, his mother would always put some bread aside to dry it out for the chicken. He was so hungry that he would always sneak into this spot to secretly eat. He could not believe that now – more than 20 years and billions of aid from abroad later, as well as in the country’s agricultural sector – he had seen his children go hungry.

In the past few years, Afghanistan could not meet the growing demand for wheat, for example, and was dependent on imports. It is estimated that this year’s drought is causing the collapse of domestic production by about a third. Observers say that the grains in the affected areas “disintegrate in the hands like dust.” According to the World Bank, more than 60 percent of all households depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Many rural residents’ stores are empty this year.

International aid “only to neighboring countries”

Donor country governments, including Germany, stopped making development payments to Afghanistan when the Taliban came to power and were limited to emergency humanitarian aid. As part of the crisis package, Germany provided 250 million euros in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in neighboring countries by the end of the year, says a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Funds are implemented directly with aid organizations without Taliban interference. The United States has also recently increased its aid.

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The Islamists, who have virtually no room to maneuver in the face of frozen state reserves and collapsing tax revenues, have already expressed their willingness to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid. Observers criticize that current restrictions imposed by donor countries on emergency aid alone do not solve the problems underlying the massive humanitarian and economic crisis.

Afghans themselves have little hope that their situation will improve any time soon. Roshchana’s plan to get the money seems hopeless. She says at the end of the conversation: “No one is buying girls.” “We are waiting for a miracle from God,” says Fred Chan, a former police spokesman.

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