“Me and my husband can go hungry but we are worried about our children they cry because they are hungry and that is so difficult,” a 35-year-old Zarghuna, mother of two, said while narrating her struggle ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan on 15 August.
“We just have dinner in the evening. Sometimes we don’t even have that and we go to sleep without eating anything. In the morning, we just have tea,” she told the Independent UK.
Afghanistan has been braving a grave humanitarian crisis since the US pulled out its troops, ending a war that lasted two decades.
Zarghuna’s eight-year-old son has also started feeling the impact of the crisis. He said, “We have bread and sometimes rice, but never meat and fruit. We have so much less food than before and it makes me worried. Sometimes, when we don’t have food, I go to sleep without eating anything.”
The family has started eating raw flour now. Zarghuna said, “Our situation is not good. A few days ago, we received a sack of flour and we started to eat that. Everything has become expensive. We cannot buy flour and oil anymore because the price is too high.”
With children aged between one and 15, Zarghuna said the crisis is so grave that the family has been only been able to afford one meal per day as food prices shot up.
Earlier, the United Nations had warned that millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken to pull Afghanistan back from the brink of collapse.
World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley said 22.8 million people – more than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million population were facing acute food insecurity and “marching to starvation” compared to 14 million just two months ago.
The food crisis, exacerbated by climate change, was dire in Afghanistan even before the takeover by the Taliban, whose new administration has been blocked from accessing assets held overseas as nations grapple with how to deal with the hardline Islamists.
Many Afghans are selling possessions to buy food, with the Taliban unable to pay wages to civil servants, and urban communities are facing food insecurity at levels similar to rural areas for the first time.
Aid groups are urging countries, concerned about human rights under the Taliban, to engage with the new rulers to prevent a collapse they say could trigger a migration crisis similar to the 2015 exodus from Syria that shook Europe.