One in every six Afghan children less than five years old face acute malnutrition, according to the UN. (Photo: IRIN/Masoud Popalzai)
Aid workers in Afghanistan say the expanding scope of the Islamic radical insurgency is fueling a humanitarian crisis. Emergency aid agencies say they need several hundred million dollars to address the threat of widespread hunger. But foreign donors who have troops in Afghanistan are reluctant to admit the situation continues to deteriorate, aid workers complain, leaving the humanitarian needs consistently under-funded.
Half of Afghan children less than five years old are underweight and 16.7 percent face acute malnutrition, according to the United Nations' new Consolidated Appeal for Afghanistan. Approximately 7.8 million of the country's 26 million -- or more than a quarter of the population -- will need food assistance in 2011.
After donors funded last year's annual appeal by only 66 percent, the UN has been more specific and restrained in its request, despite the increasing need. The appeal, launched on December 5, is for $678 million, nearly $100 million less than last year, even though it records Afghanistan's "dramatic increase in humanitarian need for its chronically vulnerable rural population."
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Aunohita Mojumdar is an Indian freelance journalist based in Kabul.