I will never forget a moment last week when a mother I had never met ran over. She was holding her baby in front of her. Clearly not thinking of Covid, she hugged me with a big hug and a kiss.
She was so thrilled that her child – who was on the verge of severe malnutrition a few months earlier – was in better health after receiving treatment for Save the childrenthe mobile health and nutrition team of Afghanistan.
This image has stuck in my mind because it is an image of hope, a reminder that recovery is possible as long as we come together. However, in general what we hear and see is more than gloomy – and the situation is only getting worse. The hunger crisis in Afghanistan right now is the worst in the world.
97 percent of the population is likely to fall below the poverty line in the coming months as people face the reality of the consequences of decades of war, climate crisis and now international sanctions that lead to economic collapse , soaring unemployment rates and skyrocketing costs of food, water and fuel – which are rising every day.
It’s also really, really, cold in here. Kabul It’s currently minus eight degrees at night, I sleep in thermals, sweaters, with central heating. It is painful to think of those displaced families who have to endure this outside with just a tent and minimal supplies to stay warm. There is already snow in some areas and temperatures can drop to minus 15 degrees.
This situation is a crisis for children. The more families are pushed into desperate circumstances, the harder it is to protect their children – from starvation, malnutrition, hypothermia. The more difficult it is to justify keeping their children in school and away from harmful forms of work.
Before, one in 16 children in Afghanistan died before their fifth birthday – which is a staggering statistic in itself. With all of these factors at play, children under five are increasingly vulnerable. Five million children are just one step away from famine and if urgent action is not taken, the United Nations predicts that one million children will die this winter.
Our health and nutrition staff are so overwhelmed that they cannot take a break to pray or use the bathroom. Even when working continuously, they are not able to see everyone who needs help.
Beyond nutritional support, parents urgently need cash transfers to heat their homes this winter and buy food for their children facing famine. As an example of the severity of the economic crisis: At that time, last year, firewood for a family for the winter cost about $ 60. It is now closer to $ 200.
Some parents told us that they sought to marry their children off because they simply could not feed them, while others received offers from people to adopt their children. These are decisions that families cannot make and could be avoided. No parent wants to abandon their child – and no parent should ever have to think about it.
But international sanctions and the economic collapse are pushing families into unimaginable circumstances. The money could help support these families and make them feel like they can survive, preventing them from going down this desperate path.
During my childhood growing up in London Bridge and then in Acton my parents sheltered me from many hardships but raised my sister and I to be aware of our privilege and do all we could to try to give back to others. .
My mother grew up under war and occupation and therefore from an early age I became passionately concerned with social justice issues and have been an activist on these issues from the age of 12.
I continued to do a lot of local and international volunteering, including monitoring human rights violations and assisting refugees. My first real international humanitarian mission took place in 2009 and I joined Save the Children in 2013 with my first deployment to support Syrian refugees in Egypt. After spending a year and a half in Egypt, I joined Save the Children’s Emergency Response Team or “surge” and since then have responded to crises around the world.
What motivates me? If I was going through a crisis, I hope someone would be there to help me too. Since working on the response in Afghanistan (from August) and arriving in the country in November, I have tried to think: if I was facing this crisis myself, how would I to be treated?
The Afghan people are awesome, inspiring and resilient, but the conditions here are beyond us to survive without solidarity. Families need your support, and they need it very, very quickly. In a world of abundance, surplus and waste, nothing justifies a child dying of hunger.
If you can donate anything, please donate to the DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal today.
To donate, visit www.dec.org.ukâ ?? ¯
Noraâ ?? ¯Hassanien is the Acting Country Director for Save the Children in Afghanistan.