Afghanistan faces food shortages, church agencies warn

By on March 25, 2009

The most severe drought in a decade is fuelling a food crisis in Afghanistan that now threatens millions of people with possible starvation, church-linked humanitarian agencies have warned.”Unless the international community responds to the issue of hunger in Afghanistan, we will not be able to fulfil any other promises we are making to the Afghan people,” said Marvin Parvez, Asia and Pacific regional coordinator for Church World Service, a U.S group that belongs to Action by Churches Together International (ACT), a global humanitarian alliance of churches and other agencies.”In Afghanistan, the heroin trade, suicide bombings and the ‘war on terror’ has put the humanitarian agenda on the sidelines,” said Parvez in a March 24 ACT report distributed from Geneva, where the alliance has its co-ordinating office.The grouping further warned that a US$1.26 million ACT appeal for the drought in Afghanistan was severely underfunded, and had received less than three percent of the requested amount.”Funding for this emergency remains a significant challenge,” said ACT director John Nduna. “What are we saying, when only high profile emergencies receive our support? “Nduna said “dramatic” funding was needed for the ACT alliance to address the crisis and support Afghan communities.CWS and fellow ACT member Christian Aid from Britain have developed plans to assist the most vulnerable in the provinces of Nangarhar, Takhar, Laghman and Herat, where recent droughts have severely affected people’s food security”With the already desperate humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the attacks on aid convoys have made it even more difficult to get supplies to the most vulnerable people,” said Serena Di Matteo, Christian Aid’s country director in Afghanistan. “Armed groups do not distinguish between convoys carrying food supplies for affected communities and convoys transporting supplies for foreign military troops.”Christian Aid has also reported that a combination of food price hikes, a downturn in the global economy, the effects of climate change, weak governance, and the intensification of the armed conflict threaten to push even more Afghans into the ranks of the desperately poor.”Inequality in communities and in households remains firmly ingrained in the Afghan society, while fragile political balances often stand in the way of policies to promote equity,” said Di Matteo.

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