Afghans face universal poverty with country on brink of ‘complete’ humanitarian crisis

GMB: British Army commander gets choked up about Afghanistan

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Afghans have seen their country descend into turmoil and chaos as a result of the Taliban insurgency that led to the downfall of President Ashraf Ghani’s government. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced internally, forced to abandon their homes by the heavy fighting. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that more than 550,000 people were forced to flee even before the Taliban retook control.

Now a new report published on Thursday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) predicts that up to 97 percent of the population could fall into poverty.

“You have a budgetary shock. You have a reserve shock,” Abdallah Al Dardari, UNDP’s resident representative in Afghanistan, told Al Jazeera.

“If the reserves, you know some $9 billion, are to be completely frozen … then you have a trade shock.

“You have interruption in domestic and international trade.”

He continued: “Usually in a country of this situation, the international financial institutions such as the IMF [International Monetary Fund], the World Bank, and all the bilateral and multilateral financial institutions would get together with the UN and propose an economic reform program.

“We know this is not going to happen.”

The current economic crisis has been compounded by a severe drought that has led to food shortages across most of the country.

Fourteen million people, more than a third of the population, were suffering from hunger, according to a report by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in June.

Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP country director for Afghanistan, predicted a major humanitarian crisis in the making.

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In the wake of the Taliban takeover, she said that unless emergency food and medical supplies arrived soon, the “already horrendous situation” would become “an absolute catastrophe, a complete humanitarian disaster”.

On Monday, the United Nations appealed for almost $200 million in extra funding for life-saving aid in Afghanistan.

The appeal comes after aid workers were forced to leave the country as the Taliban swept back into power, and a subsequent cut in funding.

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