Kabul, May 1: More than seven million children in Afghanistan were at risk of hunger as food prices have soared in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, a report warned on Friday.
The Save the Children report said that the price of food was rising just at the time when children needed adequate daily nutrition to help strengthen their immune systems, the BBC reported.
Even before the pandemic, it was estimated that more than five million Afghan children needed some form of humanitarian support.
Latest UN surveys indicate that about two million children aged under five face extreme hunger.
Citing figures from the World Food Programme (WFP), the report said the price of wheat flour and cooking oil in Afghanistan”s main city markets had risen by up to 23 per cent in the past month as demand outstripped supply.
The cost of rice, sugar and pulses had increased by between 7-12 per ceny.
“A large portion of the Afghan workforce relies on the informal sector, with no safety nets when work is scarce,” the report said.
With just 0.3 doctors per 1,000 people, Afghanistan”s sick and malnourished children are less likely to receive the life-saving treatment they need to survive, Save the Children warned.
“We are deeply concerned that this pandemic will lead to a perfect storm of hunger, disease and death in Afghanistan unless the world takes action now,” the BBC quoted Timothy Bishop, the charity”s country director in Afghanistan, as saying in the report.
“We are facing the very real risk that children could die from starvation. What we need is for the international community to urgently fly in food supplies to be distributed to some of the most vulnerable communities in the country.
“We also urge the Afghan government to facilitate the rapid distribution of food, despite the nationwide lockdown.”
So far, Afghanistan has reported 2,171 cases and 64 deaths.