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Afghanistan—‘Act Now’!

Jan. 5 (EIRNS)—Today a 30-second video was issued by David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP) on Afghanistan, showing both hungry children, and also food delivery, with the text: “The situation in Afghanistan may have faded from the front page, but don’t let Afghan families fade from your mind. 8.7 million people are on the brink of starvation. Read that again: 8.7 million people are on the brink of starvation. What we do today has the power to change the fate of more than 23 million people. Act now.” Beasley’s immediate message, tweeted with the video, is for WFP donations. He wrote, “The Year 2021 has been a catastrophic year for the people of Afghanistan. Millions of Afghans are counting on WFP for life-saving food this winter. Help us help them.”

However, Beasley’s imperative about keeping in our minds what is important about Afghanistan—the value of human life—is what applies across the board to the crises we now face. Think it through. We are capable of mobilizing the physical resources and logistics to stop mass death in Afghanistan. It takes concerted action. The Schiller Institute will host another conference in mid-January (date to be determined soon) on action in Afghanistan.

Look at the pandemic in the same way. The same principle applies. In China, concerted action has kept the COVID-19 case rate and death toll very low, with massive testing and contact tracing, as well as localized lockdowns. In contrast, the pandemic virus is now surging in multiple locations elsewhere in Asia, in the trans-Atlantic, the Americas and Africa. On Jan. 4, the daily case count was 2.594 million cases officially reported worldwide (a big undercount), of which 35%, 885,500 cases, were in the United States alone.

The Schiller Institute/Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites is preparing an emergency statement of action points required to save lives and roll back the virus. The outline and principle are the same as in prior statements, but with measures specific to the unfolding events. (Prior statements: “LaRouche’s ‘Apollo Mission’ To Defeat the Global Pandemic: Build a World Health System Now,” April 11, 2020; ‘Global Health Security Requires Medical Infrastructure in Every Country—Major Industrial Nations Must Collaborate Now!” May 14, 2021, submitted to the Global Health Summit in Rome; “Open Letter to Virologists and Medical Experts Around the World To Address the COVID-19 Pandemic,” by former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, Nov. 23, 2021; and others.)

There are initiatives in the needed direction. Yesterday, for example, the importance of rapidly expanding medical staff, by calling back into action retirees, was stressed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, when he declared an official state of emergency. There are many measures that are clearly bipartisan and nonpartisan, overriding the non-stop partisan shouting going on in the U.S. For example, use the Defense Production Act, as was done under Trump, to get all needed items, from material for construction of hospitals and medical materials, to COVID-19 therapeutics in quantity. Ramp up production of antiviral medications and all kinds of monoclonal antibodies, currently scarce.

Mobilizing for emergency action and a world health platform, with a focus on Afghanistan, are entirely consistent with the drive to stop the nuclear war danger. The meetings set for next week, on the initiative of Russia, are critical for that: Jan. 10 in Geneva, between the U.S. and Russia; Jan. 12 in Brussels, between NATO and Russia; and Jan. 13 in Vienna, with Russia and the OSCE. But there are countermoves underway.

Circulate everywhere the Schiller Institute Memorandum, Are We Sleepwalking into Thermonuclear World War III?


Sicily Daily Runs Call by Committee for Coincidence of Opposites on Afghanistan Emergency

Under the headline “Afghanistan, the Committee for the Republic: Let Us Help It,” the daily Il Corriere di Sicilia published the Dec. 10 call by the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites with an endorsement by Alessia Ruggeri.

The paper quotes Ruggeri saying: “I join the declaration by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, president of the Schiller Institute, which has highlighted that for more than two months no one has talked about Afghanistan, totally ignoring the emergency and the fact that, with the confiscation of funds, the population is likely to die of hunger and hardship,” and it continues: “These are the words of Alessia Ruggeri, spokesperson of the political movement ‘Committee for the Republic’ member of the Committee for the Coincidence of the Opposites that supports the call by David Beasley, director of the WFP, which states that immediate support from the West is needed, defining it as a moral test for the West.” See the Italian original.


As UN Offers Grim Report on World Hunger, 120 NGOs and Charities Call On World Leaders to Act Now

Dec. 3 (EIRNS)–On Dec. 2 , the UN’s Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released its Global Humanitarian Overview 2022, which offers a dire picture of world famine and urgent financing needs for humanitarian aid–now far below the $7 billion requested by World Food Program director David Beasley. Coinciding with this, from London, a group of 120 NGOs and charities of varying sizes, issued a letter to world leaders from London, under the group name “Action Against Hunger,” also urging that immediate action be taken to ameliorate the “famine risk that is soaring globally,” and about which the UN warned over six months ago.

” We,” the letter states, “a group of 120 NGOs from around the world – are at a loss that since then the crisis has only worsened. There has been a 370% rise in people experiencing catastrophic levels of hunger since April and now a staggering 45 million people are at extreme risk – on the brink of famine. These numbers do not tell the whole story. Behind them are people suffering immensely from a crisis that we can prevent. What will it take for this situation to change?” The letter cites warnings by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of huge funding deficits, rising rates of hunger and malnutrition, escalating conflict and humanitarian crises, underscoring that conflict impedes humanitarian access, using starvation as a means of warfare. It calls on world leaders to fully fund a $41 billion humanitarian hunger response to end famine globally and address emergencies that fuel hunger– the COVID pandemic, conflict and climate change. {The letter is available here.}

The OCHA report reiterates warnings made by David Beasley, that 274 million people could be in need of humanitarian aid next year–up from 235 million in 2020 and 168 million in 2019. There are 45 million people across 43 countries now at risk of famine and $7 billion needed to avert disaster. “Food insecurity”–starvation–is cited as the major cause for humanitarian need. Since before the COVID pandemic began, the number of people at risk for famine has risen by 60%, the report adds.


New World Food Program Emergency Appeal: 45 Million People on Verge of Starvation; $7 Bil Aid Required – or “Hell on Earth”

Nov. 8 (EIRNS)–The World Food Program has issued an emergency statement in the last 24 hours, reporting on the rise to 45 million people of those who are on the brink of starvation worldwide. This is an increase of 3 million from only a few weeks ago. The 45 million people are in 43 nations, and the recent increase is from Haiti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Burundi and Kenya. Compare this 45 million number to 27 million, who were in this dire condition in 2019, which already was an intolerable number. Then came the pandemic, and now the hyperinflationary breakdown.

The WFP has raised its appeal for funds to cover the crisis up to $7 billion from $6.6. billion…” WFP Executive Director David Beasley explained that, “As the cost of humanitarian assistance rises exponentially, we need more funds to reach families across the globe who have already exhausted their capacity to cope with extreme hunger.”

Beasley stressed in the report, “Fuel costs are up, food prices are soaring, fertilizer is more expensive, and all of this feeds into new crises like the one unfolding now in Afghanistan, as well as long-standing emergencies like Yemen and Syria.”

Beasley was in Afghanistan over the weekend, on a fact-finding mission, where the WFP is ramping up its operations for aid to nearly 23 million people there. He told BBC yesterday, “It is as bad as you possibly can imagine, …In fact, we’re now looking at the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth. Ninety-five percent of the people don’t have enough food, and now we’re looking at 23 million people marching towards starvation,” he added. “The next six months are going to be catastrophic. It is going to be hell on Earth.”

He said, “To the world leaders, to the billionaires: imagine that this was your little girl or your little boy, or your grandchild about to starve to death. You would do everything you possibly could, and when there’s $400 trillion worth of wealth on the earth today, … shame on us that we let a single child die of hunger. Shame on us. I don’t care where that child is.”


Afghanistan Is at “the Precipice;” More Than Half of Its People Now Face Famine

The latest “Food Security” report on Afghanistan released yesterday by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) raises the alarm that Afghanistan is becoming the largest humanitarian crisis in the world—beyond even the horror of the famines in Yemen, Ethiopia, Syria, and South Sudan. The facts, maps, and descriptions included in that report make clear that mass death has begun, and that the U.S.-led Western financial sanctions are playing a major role in this catastrophe. This is genocide.

The number of Afghanistan’s people suffering “acute food insecurity” has risen, even after this season’s harvest, from 14 million to 18.8 million people—47% of the nation’s population. That’s a 37% increase since the last assessment carried out by these agencies in April. The FAO and WFP now project that, come the November to March winter months, at least 22.8 million people—more than half (55%) of Afghanistan’s people—will be starving to death. Be clear: “acute food insecurity” is not chronic hunger; it is defined as “when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger.”

“Economic decline” stemming from the imposition of international financial sanctions is identified right up front as a “key driver” of this catastrophe, along with conflict and drought. “In the wake of Afghanistan’s political transition and the consequent freezing of US$ 9.5 billion in national assets, the economy plummeted,” the report acknowledges. “The banking system suffered severe disruption, and the national currency lost 12.5 percent of value, leading to high unemployment and food prices.”

In large part because of the sanctions, “for the first time, urban residents are suffering from food insecurity at similar rates to rural communities…. Across cities, towns and villages, virtually no family can afford sufficient food, according to recent WFP surveys,” the World Food Program reported in a press release. “Rampant unemployment and a liquidity crisis are putting all major urban centers in danger of slipping into a Phase 4 emergency level of food insecurity, including formerly middle class populations,” the report finds.

“Afghanistan is now among the world’s worst humanitarian crises—if not the worst—and food security has all but collapsed,” WFP executive director David Beasley warned in releasing this report. “This winter, millions of Afghans will be forced to choose between migration and starvation unless we can step up our life-saving assistance, and unless the economy can be resuscitated…. Hunger is rising and children are dying … the international community must come together to address this crisis, which is fast spinning out of control.”

The WFP press release cites one of the authors of the report, Jean-Martin Bauer, on how one million Afghan children, right now, are in danger of dying of hunger. Bauer asserted that “no one wants to see Afghan children die as a result of, you know, politics, essentially.”

Prove him right; join the Schiller Institute’s international campaign to end the financial strangulation of Afghanistan, and sign and circulate its “Call to Release the funds of the Afghan people.”


Beasley Warns There Are 42 Million People in 43 Countries Who Are ‘One Small Step from Famine’

On October 15 for World Food Day, David Beasley, the executive director of the UN World Food Program, tweeted a video in which he emphasized that they’re focusing on “what needs to be done to strengthen our global food systems” so that they’re capable of feeding “every person on the planet.”

This is critically important, he continued, because we’re facing food shortages all over the world. In the past year alone, 300 million more people have been plunged into food insecurity; chronic food shortage has increased by some 150 million people; severe hunger has doubled from 135 million to 270 million people.

Out of that number—42 million people in 43 countries—are one small step from famine. “If we don’t do something soon—with a price tag of approximately $6.6 billion—the world will see famine of biblical proportions, destabilization of nations, and of course, mass migrations by necessity.”

By contrast, the assets under management by just one firm, Morgan Stanley, are $1.5 trillion.


UN World Food Systems Summit—World Food Program’s Beasley Bucks the Green Line, Goes for Saving Lives

Today’s UN World Food Systems Summit was a 13-hour marathon of 215+ speakers (mostly pre-recorded,) and short videos, on the themes of making commitments to altering food and farm practices to be “nature-positive” (as if humanity is unnatural). Dozens of national representatives spoke, along with NGOs and foundations, e.g. Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. All principal UN agency leaders spoke, from the World Health Organization to the Food and Agriculture Organization. There were some threatening statements, e.g. from Lord Goldsmith, the UK Minister for Pacific and the Environment, who said, “we must reconcile our lives and economics with the natural world,” and protect the Earth with “nature-based solutions.” He called for increasing forests, and reducing cropland.

David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP) was outspoken that our task is to stop conflict and hunger. There were 4.7 million deaths over the past 18 months from COVID-19, but 16 million deaths from starvation, he said. “We’ve got the expertise. We’ve got the determination.” The question is, “What are we going to do?” He said that every day over this past year, the billionaire echelon increased their wealth by $5.2 billion, and 24,000 people died of starvation per day. This means the billionaires increased their wealth $216 million per hour, and 1,000 people per hour died. He began by estimated that there is $400 trillion of wealth in the world, and only a few billion are needed to save all the lives now in danger. Twice he said, “Shame on us.”

He did NOT speak about “resilience…inclusivity…women’s empowerment…indigenous rights…changing dietary consumption habits…nature enhancement….biodiversity” He said that we must produce and deliver the food, and stop the conflicts. He issued a call to action. That’s how to use the summit, he stressed. “Love our neighbor as an equal….A child in Niger is equal to a child in New York.” Save these lives. “Children can’t eat empty promises. It’s up to us to make food and nutrition a reality.”


World Food Program’s Beasley in Haiti: ‘We’ve Got to Help These People’

Sept. 18 (EIRNS)–The Executive Director of the World Food Program’s David Beasley has been in Haiti for several days to work with aid teams and publicize the need to take action. On Sept. 16, he sent a video tweet from Maniche, showing how “house, after house, after house, after house in Maniche was completely destroyed… you can see how bad it is, and we’ve got to help these people.” There have been four weeks of clean-up, but there is destruction all over the place. He wrote, “This is why these families need our support to recover and rebuild.” On Sept. 17, he visited a cooked-meals operation run by the World Central Kitchen.


UN Aid Conference Insists, Act Now, or Afghanistan “Will Truly Enter the Abyss”

Sept. 14, 2021 (EIRNS)—The Sept. 13, United Nations conference in Geneva on aid to Afghanistan succeeded in raising $1.1 billion, beyond the original target of $606 million. But given the dramatic reports by speakers on the dire humanitarian crisis and the urgent need for food and medicine to avert imminent starvation of tens of millions of people, the $1.1 billion won’t suffice. The situation is so fragile that 1 million children are at immediate risk of starvation if their immediate needs are not met, the New York Times reported Sept. 13. “At least 10 million children depend on humanitarian aid just to survive,” UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta H. Fore told the Times*. The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that 40% of Afghanistan’s crop has been lost this year, and the prices of basic food items are soaring. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is taking steps to help farmers so that they don’t miss the upcoming winter wheat planting season, and to keep life-sustaining farm animals alive, but the situation has been complicated by a severe drought. Over half of an average Afghan’s daily caloric intake comes from wheat, most of which is domestically grown, FAO director general Qu Dongyu, told the meeting.

World Food Program director David Beasley starkly warned that “14 million people—1 in 3—are marching to the brink of starvation…. On top of that, you have 14 million people in IPC2”—a category of acute food insecurity—“that are knocking on the same door, so if we’re not very careful, we could truly enter the abyss and see catastrophic conditions, worse than what we see now.” WFP estimates that 40% of Afghanistan’s crops have been lost for this year; the price of wheat rose by 25%, and the price of flour has doubled at local markets. Beasley stressed that a major concern is that 4 million people live in hard-to-reach areas, for whom, if food isn’t prepositioned before winter, “we will face a catastrophe. The time is now. We can’t wait six months. We need the funds immediately so we can move the supplies.”

Like other speakers, Beasley also warned, “if we’re not careful, and we’re not strategic, we could face mass migration, destabilization in the region, and for certain starvation for millions of Afghan people.” Beasley’s full remarks can be found here.

Making the same point, Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s permanent representative to the Geneva UN office, stressed that “Kabul’s traditional Western sponsors must provide active help to the country’s population to reduce or stop migration flows,” according to TASS.


Andrei Kortunov Warns Afghanistan Is on “Life Support;” No Time for Delay!

Sept. 14, 2021 (EIRNS)—In an interview with TASS published Sept. 13, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrey Kortunov warned that, due to both U.S. and UN sanctions, Afghanistan faces the threat of famine. The country is now “on life support,” he said, because it depends entirely on assistance from international development institutes, the UN, the EU, and the U.S. In fact, David Beasley, director of the World Food Program, reported during yesterday’s UN conference in Geneva on aid to Afghanistan that 40% of its GDP comes from foreign aid, and 75% of its public spending from international funding. Kortunov admonished that, if the Taliban coming to power means there will be more sanctions placed on the country, it could jeopardize food deliveries. He told TASS that it will take an estimated $1 billion a month, minimally, to maintain basic social institutions and avoid hunger in certain regions—that is, $12 billion yearly.

Kortunov also highlighted the issue of who will control distribution of humanitarian and food assistance to Afghanistan. Take the case of Syria, he said, where the West claims that President Bashar al-Assad can’t be trusted to handle this task, so it’s left in the hands of international agencies and aid groups. “It is not to be ruled out that the same position will be taken in respect of the Taliban,” Kortunov said, explaining it would lead to a situation where the international community “will be ready to provide food assistance but on the condition that unimpeded access will be granted to the areas in need,” and the Taliban excluded from any decision-making as to whom aid should be delivered. In the Syrian case, Western arguments are simply a pretext for curtailing Syrian sovereignty under the guise of “humanitarian” protection. How this plays out in Afghanistan—a more complex situation—remains to be seen. The TASS article can be found here.


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