Releasing its annual Watch list of the 20 worst humanitarian crises in the world, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) ranked Afghanistan as the 3rd worst crisis, adding that 28.3 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in the country. The growing poverty is likely to worsen, the IRC predicts.
The East African countries of Somalia and Ethiopia have been respectively ranked the 1st and 2nd countries facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the IRC’s 2023 Watch List.
As compared to its 2022 Watch List in which Afghanistan ranked No.1, Afghanistan has dropped down to the 3rd worst in IRC’s 2023 Watch List.
This dropdown for Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is not, however, “because of improvement in conditions but because of the severity of the situation in East Africa”, according to the Watch List report issued on Wednesday, December 14.
Of the 40.8 million estimated population of Afghanistan, the report has found that 28.3 million need humanitarian aid, 18.9 million are facing a crisis or worse levels of food insecurity, and 2.7 million have been displaced across borders.
Growing poverty has engulfed Afghanistan forcing its citizens to leave for foreign countries while businesses have collapsed or facing collapse inside the country.
Azam is a simple worker in Maymana, the capital city of the northern Faryab province. He complained to Kabul Now about the lack of work opportunities. “I have a wife and children. My economy is bad. There is now work [opportunity] in the bazaar so I can earn a living for my family.”
According to the IRC’s report, economic collapse, growing poverty, climate crisis, the Taliban’s restriction of women’s basic rights, and poor public services are other “key risks” that Afghanistan will face in 2023.
“Over half the population is reliant on humanitarian aid—a response that donors cannot sustain. Already, 91% of the average Afghan household’s money is spent on food, forcing many to resort to crisis-coping strategies such as food rationing,” part of the IRC’s report reads.
Aziz who is a salesman in Maymana said to Kabul Now that his income could not cover the expenses of his family. He struggles to sell his goods imported from Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital city of the northern Balkh province.
As the local people have significantly lost their purchasing power, Aziz shuttles between markets in different districts of Faryab province to sell his goods.
Moreover, the IRC has found that women’s-headed households are already at risk of gender-based violence, child marriage, and exploitation under the misogynist Taliban regime.
“We are facing an economic crisis. [My husband] is a simple worker. There is no work every day,” the IRC quoted Mosina, a 31-year-old mother in Afghanistan, as saying. “He works one day and then for 20 days there is no work at all.”