UN Says Afghanistan on Brink of 'Humanitarian Catastrophe'
TEHRAN (FNA)- The United Nations envoy for Afghanistan on Wednesday announced the war-torn country is on the brink of “humanitarian catastrophe”, pointing to food scarcity and the country’s crumbling economy, and warned that extremism could arise due to current conditions.
During a press conference, Deborah Lyons said she told the UN Security Council that the regional and global community must continue helping Afghanistan as it heads into the winter, where pressing issues could lead to “terrible loss of life", The Hill reported.
“Now is not the time to turn away from the Afghan people. I stressed this to the security council, stressed the need for the regional and the global community to remain engaged in helping the people of Afghanistan as they face this very difficult winter with huge problems of not just food scarcity but a crumbling economy,” Lyons noted.
“The Afghan people should not feel abandoned or forgotten by the international community, or any of the regional countries for that matter, due to the Taliban takeover. We must find ways to prevent an imminent humanitarian catastrophe and the terrible loss of life that could happen over the winter, and we can prevent it,” she added.
Conditions in Afghanistan have been on the decline since the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country following the US withdrew in August, putting the region in danger of food insecurity and other pressing issues.
A report from the UN’s World Food Program and Food Agriculture Organization published last month found that nearly 19 million Afghans, or 47 percent of the population, were seeing high levels of acute food insecurity between September and October of this year.
The group announced the main forces driving the acute food insecurity was “drought and its impacts on crops and livestock, the collapse of public services, a severe economic crisis and increasing food prices".
Circumstances are expected to worsen in the coming months. Between November 2021 and March of next year, roughly 22.8 million Afghans will be experiencing “high levels of acute food insecurity”, which is equivalent to 55 percent of the total population, according to the report.
A lack of international aid has contributed to the worsening conditions in Afghanistan.
Lyons on Wednesday noted the main driver behind the impending humanitarian catastrophe is financial sanctions imposed on the Taliban, contending that such tolls have “paralyzed the banking system, affecting every aspect of the economy”.
She said that additional support from the regional and international community could make a “huge, live-saving difference”, while also calling on “de facto authorities” in Afghanistan to respond to the concerns of individuals in the country.
“It does not have to be this way. We all recognize what is required to prevent the economic and societal collapse. We need now to work to find ways to prevent the millions of Afghans who are suffering and to counter any destabilization in the region,” she added.
The United Nations' special envoy for Afghanistan has also warned that members of the Takfiri Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorist group now seem to be present in all provinces of Afghanistan.
In a bleak assessment of the situation in Afghanistan during the past three months, Lyons stated that an offshoot of Daesh known as the Daesh-Khorasan, or ISKP, had grown and now appeared to be present in nearly all the 34 provinces of the country.
"Once limited to a few provinces and the capital, ISKP now seems to be present in nearly all provinces, and increasingly active," Lyons said, adding that the number of the group's attacks had increased from 60 in 2020 to 334 this year.
She announced the Taliban had been unable to stem the ISKP's growth.
Lyons stated that the Taliban's response to the expansion of ISKP "appears to rely heavily on extrajudicial detentions and killings" of suspected militants of this affiliate of Daesh, stressing, "This is an area deserving more attention from the international community."
The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, took power again on August 15 as the US was in the middle of a troop withdrawal. The group announced the formation of a caretaker government on September 7. No country has yet recognized its rule.
Daesh, an ideological foe of the Taliban, initially secured a foothold in Eastern and Northern Afghanistan, particularly in the Eastern province of Nangarhar, which is regarded as its base in the war-torn country.
Soon after the Taliban's takeover of the country, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the group, announced that during a three-year-long war with Daesh, the Taliban had managed to clear the Northern and Eastern parts of Afghanistan from the presence of the Takfiri group, stressing that "there is no Daesh in Afghanistan" anymore.
However, the ISKP has expanded and increased its deadly attacks since then and killed people, mostly Shia civilians, across Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul.
Lyons' comments on Wednesday came after the Daesh offshoot claimed responsibility for two deadly explosions on Saturday in Dasht-e Barchi, a Kabul suburb dominated by members of the mostly Shia Hazara community, that killed and wounded several people.
The UN envoy further said that the UN mission regularly received credible reports of house searches and the "extrajudicial killings" of former security personnel and officials by the Taliban.