It’s already one of the poorest countries in the world. With Afghanistan under Taliban control, aid groups are warning of worsening humanitarian crises as the country faces economic hardship and increased international isolation.

Since Kabul fell to the militant organization on Aug. 15, the flow of international aid on which Afghanistan so greatly depends has slowed to a trickle. Access to cash in the country is limited. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have frozen funds. It remains uncertain how the United States will continue to supply foreign assistance to Afghans while contending with the new Taliban rulers.

“If things continue this way,” said Anwar Khan, the president of Islamic Relief USA “the question is going to be not if children will die, but how many."

Here are some of the struggles the nation of some 40 million people is facing.

A crisis of the displaced

Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled the country as the Taliban has returned, adding to the 2.6 million Afghan refugees registered around the world. But within the country’s borders, there is also a crisis of homelessness and displacement. Afghanistan has some 3.5 million internally displaced people, or IDPs, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

From Jan. 1 to Aug. 9, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recorded 570,482 conflict-induced IDPs, the majority of which are women and children. The month of July accounted for more than a third of this total, with 206,967 people fleeing their homes as the Taliban offensive gained momentum across the country.

The numbers do not include people displaced by environmental disasters, which affect an average of 250,000 people in Afghanistan each year. In July and August alone, major flooding in the country’s east killed more than 100 people and left hundreds more without homes.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has called on the world to pay closer attention to the humanitarian crisis inside the country.

“As people across the world welcome Afghans into their communities and homes, we cannot forget those who have been left behind,” he said in a statement Monday, calling on the international community to help to fund aid efforts.

A crisis of hunger

More than 14 million people in Afghanistan, or approximately 35 percent of the population, are at risk of going hungry, according to the U.N. World Food Program. The organization attributes this to conflict, environmental disasters such as drought and flooding, and economic hardship. More than half of Afghanistan’s population lives below the poverty line, subsisting on less than approximately $1 per day, according to the World Bank.

Aid groups have stressed a need for continued assistance amid the withdrawal of Western military forces while also hoping for cooperation from the country’s new leaders.

35 percent


“We’re really worried about a lack food for millions coming up in the wintertime,” Khan said, noting that that is when access to nourishment becomes the most difficult for the population.

On Thursday, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the group met with WFP Executive Director David Beasley in Doha and assured him of its willingness to cooperate with humanitarian organizations.

A crisis of health care

All the while, the coronavirus continues to spread.

Coronavirus vaccinations in Afghanistan fell by 80 percent in the days after the Taliban came to power, in a country where just over 2 percent of the population has received vaccine shots.

And access to medical supplies for all kinds of care remains uncertain. Amid the chaos at the Kabul airport over the past two weeks, the World Health Organization said about 500 metric tons of medical supplies meant for the country were not able to enter the Afghan capital.

80 percent


On Monday the organization sent its first shipment of supplies since the Taliban came to power, aboard a plane provided by Pakistan. But operations could still be stalled.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that with cash hard to come by, hospitals are at risk of running out of the currency they need to buy fuel for generators and ambulances.

Khan noted that the country’s medical infrastructure relies on more than materials. Many of the doctors and experts who had helped care for Afghans in need have left on evacuation flights, he said.

“If they leave, who is going to take over?” he said. “You need the qualified people to do the work.”

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