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Starving Afghans Plead for World Attention

Published: 04/12/2011 01:41:54 PM GMT
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KABUL - A decade on their first meeting on Afghanistan, delegates attending this year's Bonn conference on the war-ravaged country are getting urgent c (more)

KABUL - A decade on their first meeting on Afghanistan, delegates attending this year's Bonn conference on the war-ravaged country are getting urgent calls from Afghani people who say the government is not doing enough to alleviate poverty and hunger.

"At the conference, they should be helping the poor," Kabul fruit seller Sardar Wali told Reuters on Saturday, December 3.

"When aid dollars go into the pockets of Afghan ministers, mayors or the government, it doesn't do anything for poor people," he added.

"We want a man who will work for our country (to represent us), not a man who will get funding and build tall buildings."

Since the US toppled the ruling Taliban and installed the West-backed government of Hamid Karzai, the country received billions of US dollars, being one of the world's biggest aid recipients.

However, the massive expenditure has almost failed to change the bitter reality for millions in the war-torn country, with the majority of Afghans earn around £1 a day.

Pumping western billions freely into poor Kabul, a lucky few Afghans, who worked for the West in reconstruction which failed to stop waste of corruption, made a fortune from Kabul's war economy.

A decade after delegates attended the first Bonn conference on Afghanistan with high hopes for its future, the gathering in the former West German capital on Monday is likely to take on a rather more sober mood.

Despite 2001's optimism and the billions of aid dollars that have poured into the country since that year, many of its people are still living in abject poverty.

In the war-torn country, unemployment is believed to run as high as 40 percent.

The poor residents also face violence scars day to day life with nearly half the population has no access to clean drinking water.


Not only hunger and starvation was affecting the Afghani people.

For Waheeda, who lives in one of the tents in Kabul's eighth district, displacement was the biggest problem affecting her torn family.

"I'm dying of hunger, I'm dying of thirst," she told Reuters.

At her tent, the elderly grandmother displays a picture of her two sons -- one has been killed, while the other has disappeared -- and says the government is doing little to help her and her grandchildren.

"It costs me five Afghanis to buy water. I have young grandchildren. I hope the government gives me some support, because I have a lot of problems in life."

The UN estimates that up to half a million Afghans are currently internally displaced, most fleeing violence or the drought that has left three million Afghans facing hunger, malnutrition and disease this year.

"For almost three years, we have been living in tents," Mohammed Ibrahim, a community elder of the group of refugees living in the canvas village, said.

"We ask whether the international community, or the Afghan President himself, will give us food and shelter."

Last year, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg said some 7.4 million Afghans were living with hunger and fear of starvation.

Afghanistan ranks 155th out of 169 countries on the UN Development Program's Human Development Index, which measures health, knowledge, and income.

Reproduced with permission from

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