Next prime minister must act to save Afghans from hunger, says Christian Aid

(Photo: Christian Aid)

Christian Aid is calling on the next prime minister to take urgent action to help Afghans survive increasingly desperate conditions in Afghanistan.

The charity has accused the UK government of "drift and delay" in its approach to Afghanistan and says it must act to prevent a humanitarian disaster. 

As the first anniversary of the withdrawal of US and Western forces approaches, conditions in the country are deteriorating with food and fuel prices soaring as a result of the war in Ukraine. 

Christian Aid is warning that the situation will only worsen as winter approaches. 

It is calling on the UK government to increase available funding by reversing the cuts in last year's aid budget back to 0.7% of GDP.

"We have no illusions about the Taliban rulers but the Afghan people cannot be abandoned to their fate," said Fionna Smyth, Head of Global Advocacy and Policy.  

"They did not vote for the Taliban and, even if the Taliban control the country, that must not stop us trying to help people make a living and giving them hope for a future free form hunger.

"Christian Aid is already delivering programmes to provide livelihoods and water and sanitation but no NGO can do the job of the Government. Conditions are becoming even more desperate with the price of food and fuel rising due the impact of the war in Ukraine. Those needs are going to grow as summer ends and we approach winter." 

Women and girls are being adversely affected by the crisis, Christian Aid warns, and especially those who have lost their husbands.

Quasi's husband was killed in a suicide bombing attack last year. She lives in Kabul where she faces a daily struggle to raise their seven children alone. Life is made harder by the Taliban's strict rules on the movement of women, which dictate that they cannot go to the market without a male chaperone.

"We don't have money to buy food every day. I and my children survive only with the little food aid that the village representative provides us," she said. 

Another mother and widow, 39-year-old Bibi, used to make money by selling dairy products from her cow but she was forced to sell it to pay off debts after her husband was killed by the Taliban. 

"I dream of having a safe living room for all of us. I will face all difficulties but I hope my children will have a brighter future and become educated. For myself, I would like to learn a new vocation so that I can work," she said. 

Pari's husband was killed on his way home during a clash between Taliban and government forces. In addition to her four daughters, she takes care of her deaf and blind mother. 

She says her "biggest dream" is the welfare of her children.

"I want them to have decent lives, eat enough food and never face my fate," she said. 

Christian Aid is calling on the UK government and its international allies to do more to help the Afghanistan economy get back on its feet and to advocate for the rights of women and girls. 

Smyth warned that women and girls in Afghanistan are "being erased from public life".

Subrata De, Afghanistan Country Manager, added, "The local authorities have demonstrated their priorities in the last 12 months by restricting women's movement and enforcing female dress codes rather than saving lives from hunger.

"But the international community also needs to reflect on the sanctions it has imposed - who are we ultimately punishing and at what cost to ordinary Afghans?"