Amanda Catanzano, Acting VP of Global Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee, said: “The economic crisis that has engulfed Afghanistan since August 2021 is now the primary driver of hunger, threatening the survival of nearly 20 million Afghans. 

“Since the Taliban takeover last year, the economic isolation of Afghanistan has pushed the Afghan economy to the brink, driving poverty, hunger and need. Access to Afghanistan’s foreign reserves remain frozen, the banking system grounded, and development assistance, which financed most government services, on pause. In that time the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has jumped by 33%.

“While the politics swirl, it is ordinary Afghans who are suffering. Afghans are forced increasingly to turn to desperate coping mechanisms. 43% of Afghanistan’s population is living on less than one meal a day, levels of household debt are rising driven by skyrocketing food prices, and reports of child marriage and labour as well as organ sales are rising. Afghan people are now spending 90% of their income on food. 97% of the population is expected to be living well below the poverty line by the second half of this year.  

At the same time declining funding has reduced the ability of UN agencies and NGOs to deliver critical services, including preventing the spread and impact of rising hunger. To stave off further humanitarian unraveling and possible famine, the international community can and should do more to safeguard the lives of innocent Afghans, including a rapid scale up of the humanitarian response and finding ways to ensure Afghans have access to livelihoods and basic services including healthcare.”