KABUL, 1 September 2008 (IRIN) - The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
says donors must provide "vital funding" to enable aid agencies to avert a
possible humanitarian crisis this winter.
Masoud Popalzai/ IRIN
Oxfam International warned that Afghanistan could face
a humanitarian crisis during its upcoming winter unless donors enable
aid agencies to quickly deliver life-saving assistance
UN agencies and the Afghan government on 9 July
launched a joint appeal for US$404 million to mitigate the impact of high food
prices and drought which have forced over five million people into "high risk"
food insecurity, but so far donors have only pledged a small fraction of the
requested funds, aid workers said.
"It's vital to see this money comes into Afghanistan... [The funds] will enable us
to ensure that current problems do not become a crisis," Dan McNorton, a
spokesman for UNAMA, told IRIN in Kabul on 31 August.
The UN call for urgent funding echoes a warning issued by Oxfam International on
30 August about a possible humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
"This is a race against time, the international community needs to respond
quickly before winter when conditions deteriorate. The health of one million
young children and half a million women is at serious risk due to malnutrition,"
Oxfam said in a statement.
Oxfam warned that if donors fail to respond quickly and sufficiently "people
could be forced to sell assets or leave their homes and villages, and there
could be a further deterioration of stability."
The UN said it supported Oxfam's calls for increased and urgent funding.
Women, children at risk
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said five million people, most of them women
and children, have been affected by drought and high food prices and are in need
of food aid.
"Hundreds of thousands of children under five years
of age and their mothers may not be able to meet their nutritional needs,
robbing them of future development opportunities," said Susana Rico, WFP country
Masoud Popalzai/ IRIN
High food prices and drought have pushed five million
Afghans into "high risk" food insecurity
Aid agencies are concerned that worsening food insecurity may reverse the
progress made recently on maternal and infant mortality rates: "Infant, child
and maternal mortality rates - already some of the world's highest - could
increase even further," Oxfam said.
One in five children dies before his/her fifth birthday due to malnutrition and
preventable and curable diseases, according to the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF.
Afghanistan suffered one of its worst winters in three decades in 2007 when
extremely cold weather, heavy snow, avalanches and lack of access to food and
health services took the lives of over 1,000 people, according to statistics
from the Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority.
Aid agencies say relief supplies must reach vulnerable rural communities before
access becomes problematic in winter.
The above article comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2008
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