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Starvation Alert, Our Chance to Show Afghans We Are for Real

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 12/24/09

This time of year is always bad in Afghanistan. It's when the passes get snowed in and people starve. Rapidly.

This is in contrast to the norm. According to the UN, 35% of Afghans do not meet the daily caloric intake requirement required to avoid malnutrition. Translation: this many Afghans are pretty much starving slowly. This could help account for the average lifespan, the shortest in the world, of 43. We're talking about a speed-up in the aging process, which, combined with unimaginable cold at these mountain altitudes, makes people drop like flies. Especially children. It happened in Samangan in 2008, in Tulak in 2005, and many other provinces where the world's fourth-poorest people expire without note by the wider world.

It is disgusting that our government would rather talk about "offensive military operations" than this. But then, people might catch on to why there is an insurgency, fix it, and their nice little war would be over.

At a UN press conference this week it was revealed that it is in danger of happening again, this time in the southern and south-east provinces. Twenty percent of food aid has not reached its target. The financial shortage amounts to about US$ 870 million - what we spend on military operations in 2 weeks. This is the time we can show Afghans we are for real, and will never let another single child starve and freeze if we can help it. Congress must pass emergency legislation as fast as it passed the legislation funding bullets and bombs. Otherwise we are damned and deserve it.

The UN office, with knowledge of the specific valleys and villages at risk will be put into contact with the following congressional offices, selected for appropriations powers, foreign policy seats, or other factors. We can never now say that the world did not know. OCHA, the humanitarian relief arm of the UN, estimates that on non-food assistance, i.e. things like blankets, tents, and first aid kits, "We're about 3,800 kits short of what we anticipate we need."

Security is an issue when considering overland travel in some areas, and so are impassable roads. But in the winter, fighting always slows down as snows arrive, and travel grinds down to only the most necessary. In 2005 in Taluk, the problem was, too-little, too-late. The food and supplies should be immediately airdropped. For once, the food should arrive before people begin to starve, before a blizzard sets in which prevents flying. In the above-linked report on Tulak:

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on the (more...)

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