Price hike adds to humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

KABUL (Agencies): Grain prices in Afghanistan have kept soaring due to the sanctions imposed by the United States and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, adding to the aggravated humanitarian crisis suffered by the Afghan people, CCTV reported.
Abdul Shukoor is a vegetable vendor who has been living at a hillside settlement named Demazang north of downtown Kabul for 20 years with his family. Resulting from the poor living conditions on the hill, the local residents are suffering severe water shortage and therefore are forced to carry drinking water uphill with donkeys each day, read the report.
Frequent power outage is another issue upsetting the locals. A China Central Television (CCTV) reporting crew has recently paid a visit to Abdul Shukoor’s home — a room measuring less than 10 square meters which houses 10 family members. “I have two sons and six daughters. One of my sons died from illness. I can only make 5,000 to 6,000 Afghanis (around 56 to 67 US dollars) each month, which is far from being enough to support the livelihood and subsistence of my family and to taking good care of my kids,” said Shukoor.
His late son passed away one month ago from cancer as a result of lacking money. “My son who died was 18 years old this year. He was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and I don’t have enough money to take him to Pakistan or India for treatment. I lost my son because I don’t have money,” said Shukoor.
He said he borrowed a total of 300,000 Afghani (around 3,375 US dollars) to take his son to doctors and now he has not paid the house rent for months. And the food price hike has added to the family’s hardship. Some 19.7 million people, almost half of Afghanistan’s population, are facing acute hunger, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis conducted in January and February 2022 by Food Security and Agriculture Cluster partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and many NGOs.
The analysis also pointed out that the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to put pressure on Afghanistan’s wheat supply, food commodities, agricultural inputs, and fuel prices. According to a grain ship owner named Shafi, the prices of rice and flour have more than doubled compared with six months ago.
“The rice price was some 70 to 100 Afghanis (around 0.8 to 1.1 US dollars) per kg and it has now surged to about 150 to 200 Afghanis (around 1.7 to 2.2 US dollars) per kg. The best quality rice is now sold at 180 to 200 Afghanis (about two to 2.2 US dollars) per kg,” Shafi told the CCTV. Following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in August last year, the U.S seized seven billion US dollars worth of frozen assets of the Afghan central bank, which has aggravated the humanitarian crisis in the country.
“The money frozen by the US government belongs to the Afghan people. They should not have done that because the money is property of our people. What the US cares about is only to maximize interests for itself, and it has done nothing conducive to the Afghan people. If they were here to help us, then why have we still been living in shabby houses like this and seeing nothing improved in our lives. The US came here to pursue their own interests instead of helping the poor here,” said Shukoor.