Two bodies of the UN, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP), have expressed fears of severe food insecurity in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan.
According to a story published in Khaama Press, the two UN bodies, in a report covering the period from June to November 2023, have warned of malnutrition in Afghanistan and Pakistan, citing the economic and political crises as the cause.
The report claimed that more than 8.5 million people in Pakistan could face acute food insecurity between September and December 2023.
It added that 70% of the people in Afghanistan did not even receive two meals a day.
The report pointed out that Pakistan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo and Syrian Arab Republic were in the range of countries facing severe food shortage.
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Besides a raging political turmoil that is refusing to abate, Pakistan’s much-sought International Monetary Fund (IMF) financial bailout has been delayed for the last seven months. It has to pay $77.5 billion over the next three years. The repayment amount is “substantial” considering the country’s GDP of $350 billion in 2021.
“The political crisis and civil unrest are likely to worsen ahead of general elections scheduled for October 2023, amid growing insecurity in the northwest of [Pakistan]. A shortage of foreign reserves and a depreciating currency are diminishing the country’s ability to import essential food items and energy supplies and increasing food items’ prices besides causing nationwide energy cuts,” the report added.
It further highlighted that economic and political crises in Pakistan were reducing households’ purchasing power and ability to buy food and other essential goods.
The report warned that if the economic and political crises in Pakistan and the security situation in the border areas continued to deteriorate, its coal and food exports might also decline.
It observed that while political wrangles raged in public, in courts and on the streets, Pakistan did not have the money to secure food imports on ships anchored at its ports.
This has resulted in shortages of even bare necessities including wheat flour for the daily bread.
In March-April this year, the Pakistani government set up distribution sites across the country to provide low-cost and free flour to people to ease their burden amid spiralling prices and the ongoing economic crisis.
However, the report added that instead of benefitting the public, the initiative caused trouble in several places where stampedes broke out, killing and injuring people.