Almost all clients of IRC-run health clinics in Afghanistan are women with malnourished children, IRC warns


The IRC is a direct witness to the food crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. Almost all of the clients who have frequented IRC-run health centers in recent weeks have been women bringing malnourished children for urgent help. With nearly 3 million Afghans on the brink of famine and 1 million children at risk of dying without immediate life-saving treatment, urgent action is needed to avert a predictable and preventable humanitarian crisis.

IRC staff are deeply concerned about the number of people coming to clinics for severe acute malnutrition (SAM), the most extreme and dangerous form of malnutrition. In the midst of this food crisis, Afghanistan faces a double emergency. The pause in international development funding has seen support for public health services dry up, pushing health care delivery to the brink of collapse. Recent IRC evaluations have shown that 60% of the health centers we evaluated lack the capacity to provide the nutrition programs Afghans desperately need.

At the same time, the collapsing economy and liquidity crunch have caused food prices to skyrocket, meaning families cannot afford the food they need to survive. Unless people can access food, the cycle of malnutrition cannot be broken and people face the very real risk of starvation.

IRC is supporting 62 clinics across Afghanistan and the humanitarian response is stepping up, but in a country where 3.1 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition, urgent international assistance is needed to prevent famine.

David Miliband, CEO and Chairman of the International Rescue Committee, said:

“Since the fall of Kabul, the international community has followed the military withdrawal with economic scuttling. The suspension of injections of aid into the state budget, the freezing of assets, the uncertainty over sanctions have combined to tip the economy. The result is a predictable and preventable humanitarian disaster. It is a failure of the world system at a rapid pace.

“Agencies like the IRC have warned of the humanitarian catastrophe that awaits us all if international donors allow Afghanistan’s economy and public health services to implode. Now the looming cost of failure is before our eyes: 23 million people in food crisis.

“Humanitarian action is more necessary than ever. Funding must be immediately made available to frontline humanitarian agencies that are able to scale up health and nutrition programs to save lives. But it’s not enough. Humanitarians cannot replace the salaries of the Afghan public sector or the functioning of its economy. Afghans need functioning banks and markets to survive.

These are difficult political questions, but the lives of millions of Afghans depend on progress. The Afghans have already paid a huge price for decades of war. They don’t have to pay again and again for an international abandonment.

IRC started working in Afghanistan in 1988 and now works with thousands of villages in nine provinces, with Afghans making up over 99% of IRC staff in the country. As Afghanistan struggles to recover from ongoing conflict and natural disasters, IRC: works with local communities to identify, plan and manage their own development projects, provides safe learning spaces in rural areas , community education, cash distribution provides tents for uprooted families, clean water, sanitation and other basic necessities, and helps people find livelihoods as well as a large program of resilience.

To donate to the IRC Emergency Response in Afghanistan, please click here.

About IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, security, education, economic well-being and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, IRC works in more than 40 countries and more than 20 American cities to help people survive, take back control of their future and strengthen their communities. . Learn more at and follow IRC at Twitter & Facebook.


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