UN World Food Programme offers cash for struggling Afghan families

KABUL (AFP) – The United Nations World Food Programme on Monday (Nov 29) distributed cash in the Afghan capital to about 3,000 families severely hit by the country’s growing humanitarian crisis since the Taliban seized power.

Global aid agencies have warned that more than half of Afghanistan’s 38 million population are expected to face hunger this winter, as the country grapples with a deteriorating economy following the Islamists’ return to power.

“I never imagined that one day I would be sitting here in a queue seeking help,” said Ms Bassana, aged 20, who lives with her family of 10.

“We will first buy food to avoid starving to death.”

The UN agency distributed 7,000 afghanis (S$100) to each family.

Mr Azimullah Fazlyar, who was helping to distribute the money, said about 50,000 to 60,000 families were in need of support in Kabul and the programme had identified the 3,000 worst affected.

“They can use the money in the winter to buy wood or whatever else they need,” he said.

Many of those receiving aid were from families whose only breadwinner had lost their job since the Taliban takeover.

Inflation and unemployment have surged in Afghanistan, and international aid that made up 75 per cent of the previous United States-backed government’s budget has completely dried up.

Student and English teacher Saniulla Hamidi was among those queuing for help.

He said he and his father, a government employee, had both been left out of work, meaning he is unable to continue his studies.

“I just wish I could pay (my fees) and return to my university,” Mr Hamidi said.

The US and the Taliban are due to hold talks this week in Qatar on humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and other issues.

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