Ferishta Salihi and her family had enough for a respectable existence not long ago. Her spouse had a job and was well compensated. She has the financial means to send many of her daughters to a private school.
But now, when her husband’s job was destroyed as a result of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, she waited in line with hundreds of other Afghans to register with the United Nations’ World Food Program in order to collect food and cash that her family badly needed simply to survive.
“Everything has been taken away from us.” “We’ve gone insane,” Salihi stated after completing her registration. Her eldest daughter, Fatima, 17, whom she had to pull out of school, was also with her. She can’t afford private school tuition, and the Taliban have so far barred teenage girls from attending public schools.
Salihi stated, “I don’t want anything for myself; all I want is for my children to have an education.”
As Afghanistan’s economy has collapsed in recent months, many solid, middle-class families like Salihi’s have fallen into despair, unsure how they will pay for their next meal. That is one of the reasons the UN is warning of a hunger catastrophe, with 22 percent of the 38 million-strong population already on the verge of starvation and another 36 percent experiencing severe food insecurity – primarily due to a lack of resources.
The economy was already in danger under the previous administration, which was backed by the United States and frequently failed to pay its employees. The coronavirus epidemic, as well as a harsh drought that drove up food costs, aggravated the problem. By 2020, over half of Afghanistan’s population would be impoverished.
Then, following the Taliban’s seizure of power on Aug. 15, the world cut off financing to Afghanistan, pulling the rug out from under the country’s small middle class. International aid used to cover a substantial portion of the government’s budget, and without it, the Taliban have struggled to pay employees and provide basic services. The international world has refused to acknowledge Taliban control, instead calling for the militants to build a more inclusive government that respects human rights.
International funding has spurred job-creating initiatives around the country, the majority of which are currently on pause. The country’s banks have been shut off from the international banking system, causing the private sector to become even more entangled. The country’s GDP is said to have shrunk by 40% in just three months.
Hospitals are observing an increase in the number of malnourished and emaciated youngsters, most of whom come from the country’s poorest households who were already struggling to get by.
Families who had their once-stable livelihoods destroyed are now left with nothing and must scrounge for methods to pay for food, rent, and medical expenditures.
Salihi’s husband used to make roughly 24,000 Afghanis ($264) a month working in the World Bank’s logistics department in Kabul. The World Bank, however, discontinued its initiatives once the Taliban gained power. Salihi, who is 39 years old, claims her husband was advised not to come to work and hasn’t received his income since.
She is now the family’s sole source of revenue. One of her neighbors runs a nut company, so they send her sacks of nuts to shell at home, and she sells the shells to individuals who use them as fuel.
Her spouse, she claims, spends his days seeking for jobs in the neighborhood. “All he can do is measure the streets with his steps,” she added, referring to a person who has nothing to do.
The United States and other international donors are sending money to Afghanistan for humanitarian help through United Nations organizations, ensuring that the money does not end up in the Taliban government’s coffers. Two tunes have received the most attention. To prevent the health system from collapsing, the United Nations Development Program, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF are collaborating to directly pay wages to physicians and nurses across the nation. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) is attempting to keep families afloat by offering direct monetary assistance and food.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has had to drastically increase its activities. It helped 9 million individuals in 2020, an increase from the previous year. That number has climbed to about 14 million so far this year, with the pace substantially increasing each month since August. The ministry claims it will require $220 million every month to provide for more than 23 million people next year.
It isn’t simply the lowest of the poor, who are frequently found in rural regions, who want assistance. “There’s a new urban class of individuals who would have been collecting a wage up until the summer… and are now confronting hunger for the first time,” said Shelley Thakral, the WFP’s Afghanistan spokesman.
“People are increasingly scavenging for food, missing meals, and moms are being forced to limit food quantities,” she added.
Hundreds of men and women queued at a gymnasium in a west Kabul area last week to collect a monthly cash handout of 3,500 afghanis ($38).
Nouria Sarvari, a 45-year-old widow who was in line, used to work for the Ministry of Higher Education. When the Taliban took power, they ordered most female government employees to remain at home. Sarvari claims she hasn’t been paid in over a year and is trying to feed her three children who still live with her.
Sajjad, her 14-year-old son, sells plastic bags at the market for a few dollars. Sarvari claims that she relies on the assistance of her neighbors. “I purchase on credit from shops.” I owe so many retailers, and the majority of the money I earn today will be used to pay off my debts.”
Samim Hassanzwai claims that his life has been entirely flipped upside down in the last year. COVID-19 killed both his father and mother, he alleged. His father was an intelligence officer, while his mother worked as a translator for an American organization.
Hassanzwai, 29, worked at the Ministry of Culture but hasn’t been paid since the Taliban took power. He’s now jobless, with his wife, three children, and four younger sisters all relying on him.
“I worked, my mother worked, and my father had responsibilities. He stated, “We were doing OK with money.” “At this point, everything is completed.”