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Afghanistan sinks deeper into despair

 | Breaking News Updates

Afghanistan sinks deeper into despair

| Breaking News Updates | Usa news

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The freezing cold of the Afghan winter causes small children to cuddle under blankets in makeshift camps. Sick babies in hospital lie wrapped in their mother’s wraparound burqa. Long lines at food distribution centers have become overwhelming as Afghanistan descends deeper into desperate times.

Women line up for cash at a World Food Program cash distribution in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, November 20, 2021 (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

Petros Giannakouris via AP

Since the chaotic takeover of Kabul on August 15 by the Taliban, an already war-torn economy, once kept alive by international donations alone, is now on the verge of collapse. There is not enough money for hospitals.

Saliha, who like many Afghans uses only one name, took her baby to Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in the capital, Kabul. Weak and fragile, Najeeb, 4 months old, suffered from severe malnutrition.

Afghanistan sinks deeper into despair

 | Breaking News Updates
Saliha holds her four-month-old baby Najeeb as he undergoes treatment in the malnutrition ward at Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

Petros Giannakouris via AP

The World Health Organization warns of millions of malnourished children, and the United Nations says 97% of Afghans will soon be living below the poverty line.

For millions of people living in IDP camps or sitting outside government ministries in search of help, the only source of warmth is to snuggle around open log fires.

Afghanistan sinks deeper into despair

 | Breaking News Updates
Brothers fill water cans from a stagnant pool about 3 kilometers (2 miles) from their home in the village of Kamar Kalagh outside of Herat, Afghanistan on Friday, November 26, 2021 (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

Petros Giannakouris via AP

Almost 80% of the previous Afghan government’s budget came from the international community. This money, now cut, has financed hospitals, schools, factories and ministries. In Taliban Afghanistan, there is no money. Sanctions have crippled banks as the UN, US and others struggle to find a way to get hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Afghans while bypassing the Taliban, albeit there is no immediate sign of the widespread corruption that characterized the previous administration.

Afghanistan sinks deeper into despair

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A young girl stands outside her house as two dogs lay on the ground in the village of Kamar Kalagh near Herat, Afghanistan on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

Petros Giannakouris via AP

For many of the poorest Afghans, bread is their only staple food. Women line up in front of town bakeries, young children arrive before dawn to look for bread. The majority scramble to find food and fuel. The statistics provided by the UN are grim: nearly 24 million people in Afghanistan, or about 60% of the population, suffer from acute hunger. As many as 8.7 million Afghans face famine.

Afghanistan sinks deeper into despair

 | Breaking News Updates
A man distributes bread to Afghan women outside a bakery in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, December 2, 2021 (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

Petros Giannakouris via AP

School for girls under the Taliban is irregular and in many provinces they are not allowed to attend school after the sixth grade, but in more than 10 provinces schools are open. The international community is working on ways to help open schools while encouraging the Taliban to open others.

In some areas, such as western Herat province, teachers and parents together coax local Taliban leaders into opening schools. In schools like Tajrobawai Girls’ High School in Herat, this is paying off.

Afghanistan sinks deeper into despair

 | Breaking News Updates
Afghan girls participate in a class at Tajrobawai Girls’ High School in Herat, Afghanistan on Thursday, November 25, 2021. (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

Petros Giannakouris via AP

Months ago, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned of a mass exodus of Afghans if Afghanistan was allowed to plummet into an economic abyss.

Afghanistan sinks deeper into despair

 | Breaking News Updates
Mohammad Ayoub, 65, the only man left after all the young men have tried their luck by going to Iran, stands in front of Jar-e Sawz, the village he lives in on the outskirts of Herat, Afghanistan, on Saturday November 27, 2021 (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

Petros Giannakouris via AP

The exodus has already started as thousands of people leave Afghanistan for Iran in desperation. By the hundreds, they pack buses that take them from Herat to the neighboring province of Nimroz, from where they make the dangerous journey to Iran. Some hope to go further, to Turkey and possibly Europe, despite Europe’s growing determination to keep migrants out.

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