|Al Jazeera, Nov 25, 2008|
The Afghan government has told foreign donors that a “huge humanitarian crisis” will materialise if food supplies do not rapidly reach the country.
Afghans are facing death and destitution due to food shortages and the oncoming bleak winter.
Al Jazeera’s David Chater, reporting from the western province of Herat, said that the crisis is spreading across Afghanistan.
The World Food Programme’s last supplies of wheat aid for the year for people in Herat were delivered recently, but are considered too meagre to help citizens through the winter.
Two sacks of wheat were provided for each family.
Haji Shair Agha Hotak, from the Afghan agriculture department, said: “For every ten people we hand wheat to, here hundreds more should also get supplies.
“There are three million people in Herat province. We simply do not have enough food to feed them all.”
Rising food prices
Prices of food in local markets has soared in recent months, leading to hunger and consequential disease.
A local woman, collecting food aid from the WFP in Herat on a recent day, said: “I’m sick and this is the first time I have got any wheat. My children are hungry.
“I was pushed and punched.”Black marketeers are in the region attempting to persuade people, particularly the old and vulnerable, to sell their supplies of wheat.
Elderly locals are often left stranded after travelling to Herat town to receive aid but failing to have enough money to return home.
Chater said that dwindling food aid supplies are not reaching remote regions in Afghanistan and that the heavy annual winter snow will hamper distribution further.
Food shortages have been instigated by a drought which has depleted rivers around Herat.
The drought followed a brutal winter in 2007 in which hundreds died of hypothermia.