The United Nations is stepping in to try to rescue Tajikistan from a social catastrophe brought on by severe winter weather. But even if an emergency UN appeal for assistance generates a robust international response, it is questionable whether Tajikistan will be able to avoid entering a downward spiral, featuring pestilence and widespread hunger.
On February 18, the UN issued a "flash appeal," calling for an immediate international infusion of $25.1 million in assistance to Tajikistan. "At least 260,000 people are in need of immediate food assistance," the appeal stated grimly. "Moreover, the government reports that up to 2 million people may require food assistance through the end of the winter, if limited food and fuel supplies in rural areas are not replenished." In all, almost one-third of the country's population of just over 7 million is in need of some form of assistance.
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Konstantin Parshin is a freelance journalist based in Dushanbe. Kambiz Arman is the pseudonym for a Tajik journalist.