A family of eight orphan children have starved to death in Afghanistan, as the United Nations warns the country is on the brink of suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The unnamed children, all thought to be under 10, were found dead in Kabul, after being left to fend for themselves following the deaths of their mother and father.
More than half the population of Afghanistan are now short of food, and the looming catastrophe will soon eclipse crises in Yemen and Syria, according to the latest assessment by the UN’s food body.
A long-brewing crisis caused by drought, war and poverty has now been accelerated by the Taliban’s rise to power in August.
The militants’ resumption of their Islamic emirate in one of the world’s poorest countries has been accompanied by a suspension of aid and now economic collapse.
The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates nearly 23 million of Afghanistan’s 39 million population are now unable to get regular access to enough food. That figure has risen from 14 million two months ago.
David Beasley, executive director of WFP, said: “Children are going to die. People are going to starve. Things are going to get a lot worse.
“I don’t know how you don’t have millions of people, and especially children, dying at the rate we are going, with the lack of funding and the collapsing of the economy.”
The eight orphans were found dead around three weeks ago in west Kabul, according to local leaders. The family’s father had been bedridden and suffering from a tumour before dying.
Their mother, who had heart disease, died soon afterwards, according to Mohammad Ali Bamiani, a cleric.
The children were left alone and relied on occasional bread and water from neighbours, but were found dead by the landlord.
Save the Children, the UK aid charity, said families were taking desperate measures to survive, such as selling their possessions to buy food, sending their children to work or getting by on bread alone.
The food crisis, exacerbated by climate change, was dire in Afghanistan even before the takeover by the Taliban.
The new administration has been blocked from accessing assets held overseas as nations grapple with how to deal with the hardline Islamists.
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