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Climate crisis fuels deadly floods, worsening hunger in Afghanistan

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that as erratic weather on the back of the worsening climate crisis “becomes the norm”, things will only get worse.

This month’s unusually high rainfall followed a dry winter, rendering the ground too hard to absorb water, leading to massive flooding. Unseasonably warm temperatures further complicated the situation by melting mountain snow, causing rivers to overflow and inundating villages with mud.

“With one disaster after another hitting these communities, they are being pushed back into destitution. Recent improvements in food security in Afghanistan now risk being lost,” said Hsiao-Wei Lee, WFP Country Director for Afghanistan.

These families need emergency assistance to survive, and in the longer term, they need investments in community infrastructure that help protect their homes, lands and livelihoods.”

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Severe destruction

Floods last week due to heavy rains caused severe destruction in Ghor and Faryab provinces, in northwest Afghanistan. Over 130 people are reported to have died, hundreds more are missing, and thousands of houses and businesses have been destroyed or damaged.

Access is also a major challenge with many villages cut off and humanitarians are struggling to reach affected regions.

As search and rescue operations continue, the number of casualties is expected to rise, highlighting the urgent need for more international support and intervention to address the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

On 10-11 May, the northeast was struck by heavy rains and flash floods, affecting Badakhshan, Baghlan and Takhar provinces. At least 180 people are confirmed to have been killed and a further 280 injured.

WFP response

In immediate response to the floods, WFP provided fortified biscuits and nutritional supplements to children, and worked with local bakeries to distribute bread to the hardest-hit communities.

By the end of last week, the agency began distributing food rations and cash assistance in functional market areas.

For its ongoing response, WFP requires an additional $14.5 million to cover emergency food and nutrition assistance and resilience building projects.

To mitigate future disasters, it is investing in climate adaptation projects, including the construction of protective walls, dams, and irrigation canals.

Notably, a WFP-supported flood wall in Baghlan protected 670 families and 400 acres of agricultural land during the heavy rains.

DiCarlo in Afghanistan

Meanwhile, on the political front, Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, visited Afghanistan from 18 to 21 May, where she met Taliban officials, members of the diplomatic community in Kabul and representatives of civil society.

According to UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, discussions focused on the meeting of Special Envoys on Afghanistan, which the UN is organizing in the Qatari capital, Doha, on 30 June and 1 July.

The meeting aims to increase international engagement with Afghanistan in a more coherent, coordinated and structured manner.

“She extended to the de facto Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi, an advance invitation from the Secretary-General to participate at the forthcoming meeting of Special Envoys,” Mr. Dujarric told journalists at the regular press briefing in New York.

Taliban leaders did not attend the last round of the meeting, held in February.

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