Kabul : The number of Afghans in poverty nearly doubled to 34 million as the nation was racked by the collapse of the US-backed government and the Taliban takeover, the United Nations.

The United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] released recently a stark new assessment of 2022 data estimating 34 million Afghans were living below the poverty line.

The figure is a staggering increase of 15 million on 2020, the last full year of rule by the Western-backed government that crumbled in a matter of weeks the following summer.

There is no contemporary census data for Afghanistan but the UN uses a population estimate of 40 million, meaning 85 percent of the nation is projected to be in poverty. '' Some have been compelled to sell their homes, land, or assets that generate income,'' the UNDP report said.

'' Others have resorted to the distressing practice of commodifying their own family members, turning children into labourers and young daughters into brides.''

The UN has also warned that restrictions may turn off the aid tap at the source, with donors wary of committing cash to projects that cannot be implemented.

The UN's 2023 Afghanistan appeal has thus far raised only five percent of its $4.6 billion goal.

'' If foreign aid is reduced this year, Afghanistan may fall from the cliff edge into the abyss,'' the UNDP resident representative in Afghanistan. Abdallah AI Dardari, said in a statement.

Aid officials say they need women workers to help identify and support Afghan women beneficiaries across the country.

'' The ban has very negative consequences,'' Dardari told reporters during the release of the UNDP report in Kabul.

'' If we don't have those female colleagues, who will knock on the door and provide support and talk to Afghan women in their homes?''

The UN has told all Afghan citizens, both men and women, to stay away from its offices since Afghan female UN staff from work two weeks ago.

'' For now they are working from home and they will continue to be UN staff and they will continue to be paid,'' Dardari said. [AFP]


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