Armaghan Lateefi (name changed) is a 43-year-old widow staying in a suburb of Kabul. Her husband died in one of the bombing incidents two years ago leaving behind two daughters, 24- and 22-year-old, respectively. She is an ethnic Tajik and used to work at an embroidery workshop prior to the Taliban takeover. She has not gone out of her house in the last 15 days. Food is scarce and all water-filling points are controlled by the Taliban. The entire family has two fears, first is getting caught by the Taliban since they are Tajiks, and the second is for survival since there is no male member in the family and as per the rules of the Taliban, a woman cannot go out unless accompanied by a male member of the family. They are surviving on a single meal per day and that too is just bread. Supplies are short and they have only enough flour to survive for the next three days. What will happen after that is a big question.Also Read - 'Right Decision, Wise Decision and the Best Decision': US President Biden as He Marks the End of War in Afghanistan
Ghulam Ahmed Shirani (Name changed) was a shopkeeper in Kabul and has a 14-year-old son who is suffering from multiple health issues since birth. Earlier he used to get medicines from a nearby pharmacy but for the last one month, medicines are not available, most doctors have run away, and taking a critically ailing patient to a hospital is difficult as the Taliban have established check posts all over the city and are not allowing anyone to move through. He does not want to see his son dying in front of him.
This is not the story of just a family but of more than 4-5 million families in Afghanistan. Food is scarce, water availability is poor and new rules by the Taliban are making things difficult. For the last three months, no humanitarian aid could move into the country because of the closure of land routes. The months of July, August, and September are crucial because these are the months when the government of Afghanistan used to stock essential supplies for upcoming winters. Within next two months, winters will fall, and due to the closure of land routes, stocking will not be possible.
A report of the World Food Program issued earlier this month reflected the poor situation in the war-torn country and warned that over 14 million people in the country will face a severe food crisis in the coming months. With a major drought hitting Afghanistan this year, things are becoming horrible. As per an estimation, over 40% of the crops are lost and more than one-third of the livestock is devastated due to the drought. Most of the reserves kept in the government warehouses as well as public homes have been confiscated by the Taliban for their use and the existing livestock is being slaughtered at an alarming rate to feed Taliban soldiers.
While there is no possibility of land routes opening in near future, organisations like World Bank and the IMF have also stopped the disbursal of their grants anticipating the fragile political situation. Taliban governance in Afghanistan is not worried about this at all and a severe hunger crisis is looming ahead. As per the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, it is estimated that four of the provinces (Daykundi, Faryab, Badakhshan, and Ghor) are already undergoing severe crises & may face large scale famine due to food shortage. A large number of Internally displaced people (IDP) is making things further difficult as the number of such people is closely reaching about a million. In a country which is facing civil war-like situations for over five decades and where over 92% of the population lives on less than 2$ per day, the situation is really alarming and needs immediate humanitarian intervention.
As per inputs, there are limited food supplies available in Afghanistan to sustain for just 10-12 weeks. Medicines and other essential goods have severe challenges too. Apparently, Afghanistan has more arms factories than hospitals. The future is dark as the Taliban don’t seem to be bothered about the local population and so far, they are busy celebrating their victory over the United States and there has been no effort to invite international humanitarian aid to the country. Experts worldwide have projected their fear of large-scale hunger-related deaths in Afghanistan and their words are to be taken seriously.
It is a matter of fact that before being the graveyard of empires, Afghanistan has always been the graveyard of its own population first. While many of them die in the war and a significant number of people become displaced in their own lands, a common Afghan is forced to die due to hunger or lack of essential needs. There is no food, no water, no medicine, and no education. The world is growing but Afghanistan is moving back into the medieval era. An era of extreme hardships, Sharia, Patriarchal society, and brutal governance. Welcome to 16th Century Afghanistan- brutal, insensitive, fanatic, and bloodthirsty.
Amit Bansal is a Defence Strategist with keen interests in International Relations and Internal Security. He is also an author, blogger, and poet.
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