As millions more in Afghanistan plunge into dire financial distress due to mass unemployment and soaring prices, CARE is providing quick and flexible cash assistance as a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable. Afghanistan is in the grip of a catastrophic economic crisis that is forcing some to do the unimaginable, including selling their own children just to put food on the table. The economic measures imposed on Afghanistan prevent aid agencies from operating at full capacity and delivering aid to those who need it most.
Fatima*, 32, said; “My neighbor knew about our desperate situation. They asked me if I would sell my seven-month-old daughter to them for 20,000 to 30,000 Afghanis (215 to 315 US dollars). I did not know what to do. I spoke to my husband. We didn’t want our baby and our other children to die, so we agreed to sell her. I didn’t sleep the next week knowing that I was losing my baby. Then we received a call from CARE saying that we were going to receive cash assistance. I just started crying. We have stopped selling our baby. Now I can buy food for my children and have food for myself because I am still breastfeeding. We are also going to have my husband treated.
The double whammy of mass unemployment and soaring food prices is forcing many people to make impossible choices and nearly 23 million people face acute hunger. The harsh winter is making the situation worse, with current nighttime temperatures as low as minus 7 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country. Inadequate housing, lack of money to buy firewood, blankets and warm clothes make the already dire humanitarian situation in the country unbearable for many.
Fatima* explained; “We struggle with food. My children often go to bed hungry. I am the head of the family but I have no regular income. My husband is sick and cannot work. Sometimes I wash clothes for other people and earn 150 Afghanis (1.60 USD), but often they can’t afford to pay me. My 12 year old son goes begging on the street. Six months ago, a 5-kilogram bag of potatoes cost 110 Afghans ($1.20), now it’s 270 Afghans ($2.80).
CARE has provided cash assistance to more than 8,200 highly vulnerable households (more than 57,000 people) in nine provinces of Afghanistan since October 2021. Nearly 4,000 households have received a one-time payment of US$179, which they can use for any of their most important needs. urgent needs, while more than 4,200 households received cash specifically for food, or through a cash-for-work programme.
Deepmala Mahla, Vice President of Humanitarian Affairs at CARE, said: “Cash assistance allows families to prioritize their needs – whether it’s food, medical care or warm clothes for their children. The other huge benefit of cash assistance is that it boosts the local economy. CARE selects the most vulnerable for this assistance, including female-headed households, displaced people, child-headed households and people with disabilities.
We urge the international community to continue and scale up its support for vulnerable people in Afghanistan, including women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by the crisis. JNecessary humanitarian exemptions must be approved to ensure that sanctions do not continue to affect the delivery of aid and the ability of humanitarian agencies to operate at scale. Ultimately, these restrictions are expensive Iives.”
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CARE Senior Press Officer