“Once the snow sets in it is simply too late,” said WFP deputy regional director for Asia and Pacific.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday called for the international community to donate $200 million in food aid for Afghanistan so essential supplies can be delivered to remote regions before winter, Reuters reported.
“WFP is warning that a humanitarian catastrophe awaits the people of Afghanistan this winter unless the international community makes their lives a priority,” Anthea Webb, WFP deputy regional director for Asia and Pacific, told a UN briefing.
“Once the snow sets in it is simply too late.”
Webb said the WFP needs to get supplies through mountain passages before they are blocked by snow.
“Any further delay could be deadly,” she said.
Webb added that countries nervous about a possible exodus of people from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control should back relief missions supporting those who stay in the country.
On Sunday, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is concerned about the prevailing humanitarian needs within Afghanistan, and urges support to ensure that all those requiring assistance “are not forgotten.”
The situation on the ground across the country remains extremely fluid. While widespread fighting has decreased since the takeover of the country by the Taliban on Sunday, the full impact of the evolving situation is not yet clear. Many Afghans are extremely anxious about what the future holds, the report notes.
Bolstered support for the humanitarian response inside Afghanistan itself is urgently needed to deliver assistance to the Afghan people, including some half a million displaced this year alone, said the UNHCR.
The vast majority of Afghans are not able to leave the country through regular channels, the statement says, adding: “The footage taken a few days ago of crowds at the airport has shocked the world, speaking powerfully to the sense of fear and uncertainty among many Afghans.”
UNHCR welcomes the efforts of several states to protect at-risk Afghan nationals through bilateral evacuation programs.
These bilateral evacuation programs should not, however, overshadow or substitute for an urgent, and wider international humanitarian response, says UNHCR.
Nor should these hamper or preclude the possibility for Afghans the right to seek asylum in other countries. All states – and this applies to countries both within and outside the region – must preserve the right to seek asylum for Afghans arriving through regular or spontaneous means, the statement says.
UNHCR calls on donors to “remain steadfast in their support for humanitarian operations in Afghanistan and are also appealing for support. UNHCR’s Supplementary Appeal for the Afghanistan Situation highlights US$62.8 million as urgent needs to support the response for internally displaced people in Afghanistan as well as preparedness in Afghanistan and its neighboring countries.”