Government extends lockdown period, poor families worry about food scarcity
The Afghan authorities have extended period of lockdown in major cities including the capital Kabul as the fatal pandemic continues to climb in the country.
The Ministry of Public Health confirmed that 607 people have
tested positive for coronavirus and 19 patients, who were inflected by the
virus, have died in the country. According to health authorities, 38 people,
infected by the virus, have recovered, so far.
An official record shows that in the capital Kabul, out of
119 patients, five have passed away. After Herat, Kabul is the second hard bit
city in Afghanistan.
The Kabul governor’s press office says that Kabul would
remain under a full lockdown for two weeks to prevent the spread of the
coronavirus. During this period, the gates will be closed and public movement
would be allowed.
The government has taken a relief initiative to supply ten thousand tons of wheat to poor families in Kabul. Government officials say relief operation continues and a 50-Kg gunny of wheat is supplied to each family.
Meanwhile, a number of Kabul residents have criticized the government for what they call unfair distribution of aid. In a move, the government distributed a package of 3.5 Kg wheat to needy families in western neighborhood of Kabul which is mostly populated by the Hazaras.
“The government has supplied a few gunny of wheat to each mosque,”
Sayed Mohsin Alavi, a volunteer who identifies needy families in western neighborhood
of Kabul, told Kabul Now. “In a mosque where 800 families [were waiting to receive
aid], only 25 gunnies of wheat have been given.”
With an estimated 1.5 million population, the western neighborhood
of Kabul is an area where poor families are dwelling. Many residents of the
area are labors who live on daily wages and hard laboring.
There are 19,000 needy families in the area but the government has supplied aid for 6,000 families, says Ahmad Malekyar, head of PD13. “The government has donated about 300 tons of wheat (about 6,000 gunnies) and 359 gunnies of peas for 6,000 poor families,” says Mr. Malekyar.
With the pandemic coronavirus began to spread, unemployment
rate jumped to top, with thousands of laborers having no source of income in
the capital. The growing unemployment has put a large number of people at
serious risk of starvation.
Most poor families cannot afford to stay home under a lockdown. Ali Akbar is happy with government decision to place the city under lockdown, preventing the spread of the virus, but his family will starve if he stops working.
“Many people are listing my personal identification for a
few days now, but we haven’t received any aid yet,” says Ali Akbar. “The
government doesn’t control price of fruit in the market. The fruit we used to
buy for 450 afghanis is now 800 afghanis.”
The story of 65 year old Ali Akbar depicts how difficult survival
has become for thousands of poor families in Kabul.