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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.


World Food Program’s Beasley Met With Taliban in Afghanistan on Continuity of UN Relief

World Food Program’s Beasley Met With Taliban in Afghanistan on Continuity of UN Relief

Sep. 1 (EIRNS)–David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program, was in Afghanistan last week, during the evacuation period, to personally see to arrangements to continue and step-up food and humanitarian relief in these very hard times. He met with Taliban leaders on plans. Then, back in his home state of South Carolina, he was interviewed by local TV WBTW, in a video now in circulation, stressing the need for resources and action in Afghanistan. The interview can be seen here.

Overall, 18 million Afghans are in need of humanitarian relief—half the population, with over 500,000 displaced. Four million are near death this year from starvation, without reliable food relief, Beasley said.

He stressed, on his operating approach, “We have to negotiate, work with whoever controls an area. That’s why we’re in war zones. We work with both sides. We have no choice, because we’re trying to reach the innocent victims in the conflict. ” He said of his visit, “We’ve had very frank conversations and so far, quite shockingly, the Taliban has said to us, ‘We want you to do what you do. We don’t want to interfere.’ They’ve actually provided protection and warehouses and some of our supply chain and our routes.”

The World Food Program is appealing for an additional $200 million over the next 45-day period, in order to obtain and pre-stage food for the coming Winter months. Beasley is also mobilizing WFP workers to man the front lines to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in poor countries. The WFP is the UN logistics and travel service for all purposes, not just food.

Today, UN representative in Afghanistan Isabelle Moussard Carlsen gave an interview to CGTN on the dimensions of need for aid in Afghanistan. Since May, 80,000 more people have been displaced, above the 500,000, and more of this is taking place. Of the children under five years old, 60% are suffering from acute, severe malnutrition.


Death by Starvation: 400,000 to Die in Ethiopia by Thanksgiving

Aug. 1 (EIRNS)–The UN warned on Saturday of “catastrophic” food shortages set to sweep world’s hunger hotspots over the next three months. Among the 23 hotspots are Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region, southern Madagascar, Yemen, South Sudan and northern Nigeria. These worst-case locations have now progressed to starvation and death situations. “Hunger Hotspots,” issued jointly by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and their World Food Programme identified that in the August-November period “acute food insecurity is likely to further deteriorate.” Ethiopia is facing 401,000 people dying of starvation without an immediate intervention of humanitarian aid.


WFP’s Beasley to Rome World Food Systems Pre-summit: A Mere $40B a Year Ends All Hunger by 2030

July 31 (EIRNS)–World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley made a strong intervention this past week in the July 26-28 Rome World Food Systems Pre-summit, by focusing on ending hunger, instead of greening food production, and serving “nature” apart from human beings. The UN WFP July 26 press release reported:

“Speaking at the opening of the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit in Rome on 26 July, the World Food Programme (WFP)’s Executive Director, David Beasley, called for action to reach zero hunger.

“While the world has the expertise and the resources to end hunger, efforts and attention are being directed somewhere else. ‘While we are rushing to space, 41 million people are knocking on famine’s door,’ he said.

“Calling out billionaires, Beasley said that ending hunger by 2030 would cost US$40 billion per year. ‘That seems like a lot of money. But in the United States alone, in the last one year, the U.S. billionaires’ net worth increase was over 1 trillion,’ he added.

“’There’s over U.S.$400 trillion on planet earth today. It is a shame that we have one single child going to bed hungry – let alone dying of hunger at a rate of one every five, six seconds.’”


Beasley Calls on Branson, Musk, and Bezos for $6 Billion To End Starvation

Over the weekend, World Food Program Director David Beasley sent out a tweet, reiterating his frequent call on billionaires to step up to meet the $6 billion more needed this year to roll back hunger and prevent starvation. But this time he named names. He included in his tweet the June 26 CNN video story, “Bezos vs. Branson: Billionaires Battle Over Being First in Space.” Beasley tweeted June 26:
            “Hey, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, so excited to see you compete on who gets to space first! BUT, I would love to see you TEAM up together to save the 41 million people who are about to starve this year on Earth! It only takes $6 billion. We can solve this quickly!”

The financial worth of these three, according to Global Citizen: Branson, $6.3 billion; Musk, $165.9 billion; and Bezos $192.6 billion.


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