UN Special Rep: Afghanistan is one-step away from famine

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Toby Lanzer, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator)

KABUL –  During a press conference in Geneva, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and in resident Humanitarian Coordinator said the situation “for 3.6 million people is very, very grave.”

Afghans are “one-step away from famine” he warned the international community days before the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan.

Lanzer has traveled to 17 provinces out of 34 provinces and has personally seen the devastation the drought has brought. “Many people have said to me, this is the worst drought that has struck us in our lifetime” he said.

Next year will be very difficult, he warned. Once the drought has destroyed the livestock of millions of people who depend on herding sheep and goats or cattle, there will be more food insecurity to the war thorn country.  “Recovering from that is not a two or three month prospect” warned Lanzer.

Lanzer added that the UN is on target to meet 2.5 million Afghans as winter approaches in December, however so far only the needs of about 2.1 millions of Afghans have meet.

Close to 300,000 people have been displaced by the drought in western Afghanistan. Thousands of people are threatened by the effects of water shortages.

The U.N. humanitarian office reported that 120,000 people fled the drought and arrived to Qala-e-Naw city in Badghis province in September. Now there are camps set up in outside of the city which are not designed to protect people from winter.

In Qala-e-Naw, supplies and humanitarian aid are insufficient to meet the needs of families. This week it was reported that a woman in Badghis had sold her six year old daughter for 225,000 Afghanis because of hunger. The mother said she had no choice but sell her daughter in other to survive.

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