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Displaced children play at a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan on April 16, 2021. (Photo: Rahmatullah Alizadah/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Warning of 'Looming Harsh Winter,' IFRC Calls for Urgent Humanitarian Aid for Afghan People

"There needs to be some solution to the financial flows into Afghanistan," said one official.

Warning that the freezing of funds by some of the world's wealthiest countries is pushing Afghanistan toward a humanitarian crisis, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Thursday called on global policymakers to immediately disperse relief aid to save millions of Afghans from starvation.
The IFRC said 18 million Afghans are currently in need of urgent humanitarian assistance following the Taliban's consolidation of power in August, after which the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank cut off the flow of cash to Afghanistan.
"There needs to be some solution to the financial flows into Afghanistan to ensure that at least salaries can be paid, and that essential supplies, power and water being two of them, can be procured," Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific regional director for the IFRC, told the Associated Press Thursday.
Millions of people in Afghanistan currently face the effects of a drought, the coronavirus pandemic, and an overwhelmed and underfunded healthcare system and a "looming harsh winter... threatens greater misery and hardships," Matheou said in a statement.

"After living through decades of fleeing and fighting, Afghans now face a severe drought which has devastated food production, leaving millions hungry and destitute."
--Alexander Matheou, IFRC

"After living through decades of fleeing and fighting, Afghans now face a severe drought which has devastated food production, leaving millions hungry and destitute," said Matheou. "We are deeply concerned that Afghanistan faces imminent collapse of health services and worsening hunger if aid and money do not flow into the country within weeks."

The IFRC noted that demands on the organization's workers in the country have intensified in recent weeks amid cuts to healthcare funding.

More than 20,000 healthcare workers in Afghanistan are no longer being paid and about 2,500 health facilities are currently not in operation due to the funding cuts, according to the AP.

The IFRC said $38 million is immediately needed "to support Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by severe drought and displacement."

"IFRC appeal funds will be used to help with sustainable water supplies, establishing more drought-resistant crops and revitalising livestock, while supporting critical income generation for those most at risk of spiralling poverty, including women and the elderly," said Matheou.

The IFRC said its team on the ground was working to ramp up support for maternal and children's healthcare, food assistance, and other emergency relief.
"Humanitarian aid is not an answer, but it has a role in alleviating suffering," tweeted Matheou.

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