One million more people are facing famine in Afghanistan as a result of coronavirus, global aid agency Oxfam has said.
The number of people on the brink of famine in Afghanistan has risen sharply from 2.5 million in September 2019 to 3.5 million in May 2020, the agency said in a report.
It said that government efforts to curb the spread of the virus have ravaged Afghanistan’s already frail economy, slashing the national revenue by $800 million – a 30 percent decrease compared with 2019.
By June 2020, an estimated 35 million people – a staggering 93% of households − were in immediate need of an emergency assistance, as 70% of households reported decreased incomes and interrupted remittance flows, Oxfam said.
An Oxfam survey also revealed that 74 percent of respondents did not have access to food.
Border closures have also taken their toll on the supply routes for food and other essentials, causing abrupt increases in prices. For instance, the average price of cooking oil increased by 37%, the price of wheat flour by 18%, and the price of sugar by 19% between mid-March and the last week of May, according to Oxfam.
The agency also warned that by the end of the year, up to 12,000 people could die from hunger linked to COVID-19 every day globally, potentially more than will die from the disease itself.
Along with Afghanistan, Oxfam identified Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Venezuela, the west African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan,South Sudan, Syria, and Haiti as extreme hunger hotspots.
“The knock-on impacts of Covid-19 are far more widespread than the virus itself, pushing millions of the world’s poorest people deeper into hunger and poverty. It is vital governments contain the spread of this deadly disease, but they must also prevent it killing as many – if not more – people from hunger,” said the chief executive of Oxfam GB, Danny Sriskandarajah.
“For many people, Covid-19 comes as a crisis on top of a crisis. To break the cycle of hunger, governments must build fairer and more sustainable food systems that ensure small-scale producers and workers earn a living wage.”
–Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)
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