Millions of Afghans on the brink of famine -The Frontier Post

Spread the word

Kristy Siegfried

Nearly 23 million Afghans – over half the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, and 8.7 million are at risk of famine, the UN World Food Programme warned on Thursday, as it urged the international community to put politics aside and step up support to avert a catastrophe. Afghanistan is being hit by multiple worsening crises including economic collapse, widespread displacement resulting from the country’s long-running conflict, as well as a drought and other climate-related emergencies. Briefing reporters on Friday, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said some 3.5 million forcibly displaced Afghans, including nearly 700,000 displaced this year, urgently need more support as winter sets in. Many lack proper shelter, warm clothes, fuel for heating or adequate food. AP reports that at Kabul’s Ataturk Children’s Hospital, the malnutrition ward is filled to capacity with acutely malnourished children and that many health facilities around the country have been forced to close due to the suspension of foreign aid since the Taliban took power in August. Earlier this week, UNHCR expressed concern about the escalating risks faced by Afghans attempting to flee into neighbouring countries as the situation at home deteriorates. With borders closed to the vast majority of Afghans, many are resorting to smugglers. Meanwhile, deportations of Afghans from Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan have increased.

US to restart programme requiring asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico. The Biden administration will restart a programme, begun by the previous administration, that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for US immigration hearings, US and Mexican officials said on Thursday. President Joe Biden suspended the policy soon after his inauguration in January, but a federal judge ordered in August that it be reinstated. The administration said it had to wait for Mexico’s agreement before the policy could restart, including making “humanitarian improvements”. The US has agreed to conclude cases within six months of an individual’s return to Mexico and to improve access to legal assistance. Particularly vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those at risk of persecution in Mexico, will be excluded from the policy, which is due to restart next week. UNHCR said the announced adjustments to the programme do not address fundamental concerns over its impact on asylum seekers’ safety and right to due process. Its reinstatement comes as a public health order, known as Title 42, which allows border authorities to rapidly return asylum seekers, remains in use.

EU proposes emergency measures at Belarus borders. The European Commission on Wednesday proposed an emergency asylum procedure that would allow authorities in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia more time to register and consider claims for asylum by migrants and refugees arriving from Belarus. Increasing numbers of people have been attempting to cross into the three countries from Belarus in recent months. If approved by the European Council, the amended rules would allow authorities up to 16 weeks to consider asylum requests, up from the standard four weeks. During that time, asylum seekers could be detained in closed centres. The emergency measures, which also include increasing the deadline for registering new asylum seekers from three days to four weeks, would last for a maximum of six months. UNHCR said any measures implemented under the proposal would need to meet international standards, including access to quality asylum procedures and legal assistance, and limiting the use of detention.