Ravaged by decades of bitter war, successive droughts and COVID-19, Afghanistan is continuing to face enormous challenges including poverty and food insecurity since Taliban seized control of the country a year ago.
Data from the World Bank shows that price for consumer products including flour, rice and sugar in the country has increased roughly 50 percent from last year. Child malnutrition has also exacerbated. In June 2021, 30,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition in Afghanistan. Today, the number of children has increased to 57,000, according to UNICEF.
"We are in the middle of one of the largest humanitarian crises. Twenty-four million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid and thirteen million of them are children. It's difficult to say what they need most and first," Samantha Mort, Chief of Communication of Advocacy and Civic Engagement UNICEF Afghanistan, told CGTN.
Before the Western-backed Ashraf Ghani's government collapsed a year ago, three quarter of public expenditures from the country's $5.5 billion budget was drawn from foreign aid. After the exit of U.S. troops, international aid has been interrupted.
"Today, the tragic reality is that the scale of needs in Afghanistan far outstrips the response capacity of humanitarian actors to meet them," said Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, Resident Coordinator for Afghanistan at the United Nations.
Alakbarov pointed out that it is impossible to move the population from a mode of surviving to thriving unless multiple changes are made, including a restored economy, banking system and protected rights that allows women and girls to participate safely in all aspects of social and political life.
Faced with the collapse of the Afghan economy, millions of people are leaving the country, fueling one of the most acute humanitarian crises.
"Many of the people leaving (Afghanistan) are young men or boys that are trying to get into Iran or Pakistan in order to make money and help their families back home. Others are looking to continue on to Turkey and Europe," said Abdul Ghafoor Rafiey, director of the Afghanistan Migrant Advice and Support Organization, and also an Afghan refugee based in Germany.
Impact on Afghan women and girls
After taking power, Taliban confirmed in September 2021 that secondary schools were reopening, but only boys could return to the classrooms. Nowadays, education is largely off-limits for girls from 13 to 18 years old.
"Education is not only a basic human right, but the key to the development of a nation," said Markus Potzel, the UN acting Special Representative for Afghanistan.
Girls could contribute at least $5.4 billion to Afghanistan's economy, if they were able to complete their secondary education and go to the job market, according to the UNICEF.
Facing many tough challenges ahead, the Taliban says progress would require time.
"It has only been one year since we assumed power and the world should not expect us to achieve all our goals overnight, it is next to impossible especially when the international community has not fulfilled promises including recognition of our rule and foreign aid," said senior Taliban leader Anas Haqqani in an interview with Al Jazeera.