The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has been compelled to reduce rations for an additional 2 million Afghans this month. The agency’s country director has issued a dire warning about the upcoming winter, which could turn catastrophic if funding dries up, leaving remote communities without sufficient food supplies.
This ration reduction by UN World Food Programme is taking place in the context of growing concern over dwindling aid for Afghanistan. Despite downgrading the U.N.’s humanitarian response plan due to funding shortages, it remains only about 25% funded. WFP anticipates that its funding for food and cash assistance will run out by the end of October, requiring a gradual reduction in aid to reach 10 million Afghans throughout the year.
Furthermore, severe limitations have affected the strategic placement of food supplies in areas that will become inaccessible during the winter. Without funding, 90% of remote areas in dire need of assistance will face complete cutoff from food supplies. Even in accessible locations, people will receive no support during the harsh winter weather.
“This is the catastrophe we must prevent,” emphasizes Hsiao-Wei Lee, WFP’s Afghanistan Country Director, in an interview with Reuters.
Approximately 75% of Afghanistan’s population requires humanitarian aid as the country grapples with the aftermath of decades of conflict, now under an internationally isolated Taliban administration that assumed power following the withdrawal of U.S.-backed foreign forces in 2021. The reduction in development assistance, which had long been a vital source of government finances, coupled with sanctions and the freezing of central bank assets abroad, has compounded the nation’s challenges.
The Taliban’s restrictions on women, furthermore, including their exclusion from most humanitarian work, consequently hinder formal recognition and have discouraged potential donors. In addition, many of these donors have shifted their focus to other humanitarian crises. When addressing donors, Lee emphasizes the imperative to prioritize those in the greatest need. Moreover, she underscores the fact that the consequences of inaction ultimately fall upon the shoulders of the most vulnerable and impoverished mothers and children.