Aid agencies have warned of famine as a drought coincides with a failing economy following the withdrawal of Western financial support in the aftermath of a Taliban takeover in August. The health sector has been hit especially hard, with many healthcare workers fleeing due to unpaid salaries.
“It is an uphill battle as starvation grips the country,” Margaret Harris told Geneva-based journalists by phone from the capital Kabul. ¨The world must not and cannot afford to turn its back on Afghanistan.¨ Nighttime temperatures are dropping below zero degrees Celsius and colder temperatures are expected to make the elderly and the young people more susceptible to other diseases, Harris said.
In some places, people cut down trees to provide fuel for hospitals amid widespread shortages, she added.
On the other hand, measles cases are rising in the country and WHO data shows 24,000 clinical cases had so far been reported.
“For malnourished children, measles is a death sentence. We will see so many more deaths if we don’t move on this quickly,” Harris said.