First Report of Hunger-Related Deaths

Relief Web
October 18, 2001

From a mountain village in central Afghanistan the first report of hunger-related deaths has reached the Pakistan-based staff of Action by Churches Together. An area director for one of the local aid organizations working with ACT inside Pakistan has reported 600 deaths from severe malnutrition and related diseases. The village in question is isolated and difficult to supply, and will be cut off by winter snows in a matter of weeks. More information on conditions there is expected in Peshawar shortly.

Racing against hunger and winter in such places ACT is focusing aid work on more than 25,000 of the embattled country's most vulnerable families. Food distributions have begun in the poorest neighborhoods on the outskirts of Kabul and will reach into central Afghanistan as soon as possible. There are also shelter materials and clothing in a supply chain that begins in Pakistan.

ACT is appealing for $17 million from member agencies which include Lutheran World Relief. Norwegian, British and U.S. member agencies have pre-crisis aid partnerships still functioning in Afghanistan. The onset of winter in mid-November makes delivery of aid more urgent by the day.

The United Nations World Food Program says 7.5 million people are facing starvation due to years of drought and civil war -- a situation made worse by the U.S.-led military attacks. Even before the September 11 attacks in the U.S., more than three million people depended on food aid for their survival, according to a survey by non-governmental organizations.

Norwegian Church Aid estimates that 150,000 families, or 60 percent of the people in the areas it serves are extremely vulnerable. NCA and its local partners aim to help at least 20,000 of the most needy of these families. Already 3,400 families have received food aid. The Taliban have reportedly stopped paying people's salaries in Kabul, leaving people without any means of coping.

The beneficiaries of the food aid receive 220 pounds of wheat and three gallons of cooking oil - enough to last them about two months. Church World Service, another ACT member, has sent 1000 shelter kits to central Afghanistan for people who have fled the cities in fear of the air strikes. Christian Aid, the British agency, is focusing on the western region of Herat to get food and tents to thousands of families in need. There is an increasing gap in food resources in Afghanistan. According to the United Nations 50,000 tons of foodstuffs were imported into the country per month before the current crisis. This has dropped drastically to only 20,000 tons per month.

More Information on Afghanistan

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C íŸ 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.