At least three million Afghans are in “urgent” need of food and could face famine if they do not get help, the United Nations warned Monday, as the war-torn country battles the worst drought in living memory.
A dry spell mainly across northern and western Afghanistan has devastated crops, livestock and water supplies, forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
The drought comes at a terrible time for the country, which is already grappling with a 17-year conflict and preparing to hold a parliamentary election that is three years late.
The United Nations is spearheading international efforts to reach 2.5 million of the three million most in need of food by mid-December, UN humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan Toby Lanzer told AFP.
“Those people are surviving on less than one meal a day and in all likelihood that meal is bread and tea,” Lanzer said.
Lanzer said the three million people hardest hit were in the “emergency” phase four of a widely-used food insecurity index — one level below famine.
The figure was “among the highest in the world” and required “the most urgent response”.
“If we don’t (reach them) there’s a risk that these people go into level five,” Lanzer said.
Aid groups distributed basic commodities, including wheat flour fortified with minerals, vegetable oil and lentils, to 600,000 people last month, Lanzer said.