OCHA operations chief calls for more humanitarian support for Afghanistan
(Kabul/New York, 29 November 2012): OCHA’s Director of Operations, John Ging, voiced concern today over the appalling plight of hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have suffered through thirty-four years of conflict, deepening poverty and recurring natural disasters.
“The figures speak for themselves,” said Mr Ging at the end of a three-day mission to Afghanistan. “More than 9 million people in Afghanistan – one third of the population – are food insecure; an average of 165 children under the age of 5 die every day; and an Afghan woman dies every 2 hours due to pregnancy-related causes. Some 450,000 people are currently displaced by conflict and natural disasters. More than 75% of Afghans have been forced from their homes by conflict at least once in their lives.”
In meetings with the Vice President and Government ministers, Mr. Ging heard about reforms and new programmes under way. The Government is currently leading a winterization effort targeting 240,000 people with health, food, shelter and household items including fuel, based on lessons learned last year.
“It is clear that the Government is making progress; the candid and professional approach being taken is certainly impressive, but given the scale of the challenge, international funding support will also be key to success,” said Mr. Ging.
Mr. Ging visited the regional hospital in Kandahar, where he spoke to mothers of severely malnourished children receiving therapeutic feeding, with the support of UNICEF and WHO. He said the evident shortage of funds was “heartbreaking.”
Mr. Ging met women activists at a gender workshop in Kandahar. “Once again, reality confounds perception in this country. So many brave Afghans are fighting for human rights and women’s rights; all they need is modest support from the international community,” said Mr. Ging.
The 2012 consolidated humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan remains less than 50 per cent funded, with a shortfall of $234 million at the end of November, making it one of the worst funded appeals in the world.
“This shortfall translates into the unnecessary loss of so many innocent lives as a result of preventable disease and hunger in the midst of such a large and expensive international military presence,” said Mr. Ging. “I sincerely hope that the military transition underway will free up desperately needed funding for humanitarian and development programmes.”
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