Poverty, unemployment, and food prices have skyrocketed in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021. A year on and almost half of the population is going hungry. They are in need of urgent support to survive. Children are facing extreme hunger, exploitation, and a loss of their education, particularly girls.
Girls are almost twice as likely as boys to go to bed hungry and almost 1 in 2 of girls are not attending school, compared to 1 in 5 boys. Parents are being forced to take desperate measures to feed their children, including withdrawing them from school, sending them to work, and in some cases, selling their children to cover a debt or to get money to buy food for their other children.
Children are sad, worried, and scared.
Like this desperate Afghan father was forced to sell his five-year-old daughter to a 52-year-old man in a bid to feed his starving family.
Qadir, 35, an impoverished laborer in the northwest of the war-torn country, has spent the past two years waiting for the pedophile to come and collect his “goods”.
The father, who has six other children including a baby daughter, used to earn $2 a day – however since the Taliban took over in August, his earnings have diminished even further.
He says: “I don’t have money for food. I am scared for my kids because in winter they will die due to cold.”
Two years ago, Qadir sold his eldest daughter Zohra, then aged five, for $1,386 to a stranger. He told the Daily Mail: “I had to sell her to keep the others alive. I didn’t have a choice.”
Asked how she feels about being sold, the tearful girl, now aged seven, says: “I’m scared.”
Her father says: “She cries all the time. She asks her mother why we sold her. Her future is ruined. I am unsure how the man will live with her, as she is so small. I can’t sleep.”
The payment for Zohra had now been spent, mostly on medical bills for the family’s four sons.
Many of Afghanistan’s growing number of destitute people are making desperate decisions such as these as their nation spirals into a vortex of poverty.
The aid-dependent country’s economy was already teetering when the Taliban seized power in mid-August amid a chaotic withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops. The international community froze Afghanistan’s assets abroad and halted all funding, unwilling to work with a Taliban government given its reputation for brutality during its previous rule 20 years ago.
The consequences have been devastating for a country battered by four decades of war, a punishing drought, and the coronavirus pandemic. Legions of state employees, including doctors, haven’t been paid in months. Malnutrition and poverty stalk the most vulnerable, and aid groups say more than half the population faces acute food shortages.
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