The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has reduced rations for an additional two million Afghans this month. The agency’s country director has raised concerns about an impending “catastrophic” winter if funding is depleted, leaving remote communities with insufficient food supplies.
Amidst increasing concern over declining aid for Afghanistan, the reduction in rations occurs. The UN humanitarian response plan for the country is currently only a quarter funded despite a budget reduction due to funding challenges.
The WFP’s food and cash assistance funding is projected to be depleted by the end of October. As a result, the agency has progressively reduced aid throughout the year, impacting assistance to 10 million Afghan individuals.
Limited resources have hindered the allocation of food to winter-isolated regions. Without additional funding, the WFP warns that 90% of remote vulnerable areas will face food shortages, while even accessible areas will lack supplies during harsh weather conditions.
“That is the catastrophe that we have to avert,” WFP Afghanistan Country Director Hsiao-Wei Lee told Reuters.
Approximately 75% of Afghanistan’s population requires humanitarian assistance following decades of conflict, overseen by the internationally isolated Taliban administration after the withdrawal of US-backed foreign forces in 2021. The traditional development aid
that once sustained government finances has been reduced, while the administration faces sanctions and frozen overseas central bank assets.
The Taliban administration’s restrictions on women, barring them from working with humanitarian agencies, hinder formal recognition and deter donors. Many donors are shifting focus to other crises due to these restrictions.
“What I do in my engagements with them is remind them that at the end of the day, we must focus on those most in need,” Lee said of donors cited by Reuters.
“The cost of inaction is ultimately borne and paid for by the most vulnerable and poor mothers and children.”
Three million individuals receive essential food assistance, which could cease after October. The World Food Programme (WFP) requires $1 billion in funding to continue distributing food aid and executing projects until March.