Some 1.1 million children under the age of 5 will suffer from severe malnutrition this year in Afghanistan, the United Nations predicted Wednesday.
The U.N. and other humanitarian agencies were able to avert a famine last year, when the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, thanks to a massive emergency assistance program that fed millions of people.
Now, however, it can barely cope with a situation that is worsening dramatically. Poverty is on the rise and forcing more Afghans to rely on foreign assistance, while the war in Ukraine is driving up food prices and promises of international aid remain unfulfilled, according to a report released a few days ago.
As a result, the vulnerable are falling victim to hunger, not only children, but also mothers, who are making enormous efforts to feed themselves as well as their children.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) predicted that 1.1 million children in Afghanistan will suffer from acute malnutrition this year, almost double 2018 and up from just under 1 million last year.
Wasting is the worst type of malnutrition, a condition in which a young child’s body is so lacking in nutrients that his or her immune system begins to fail, according to UNICEF. Children become vulnerable to multiple types of diseases and eventually become so atrophied that they lose the ability to absorb nutrients.
The number of children under 5 being admitted to health facilities with acute malnutrition has been steadily increasing: from 16,000 in March 2020 and 18,000 in March 2021 to 28,000 in March 2022, said UNICEF’s representative in Afghanistan, Mohamed Ag Ayoya.