With famine looming over Afghanistan, millions struggle for every meal

BAMIYAN, Afghanistan – As winter falls, Afghan widow Kubra must find fuel to heat the single room that houses eight family members in central Bamiyan Province. The flour bought months ago is running out, so food is also becoming scarce.

“We received two sacks of flour last spring that we are still using. After that, we have to trust that God will help us, ”the 57-year-old told Reuters in a room lined with rice bags to keep the cold out.

Their firewood was stolen from them while leaving their homes amid the chaos that raged in Afghanistan that summer when Taliban insurgents marched on their way to Kabul to regain control of the country.

Stories like Kubra’s are becoming increasingly common in a country hit by severe drought and money dried up.

Before the Taliban overthrew the West-backed government in August, the economy was heavily reliant on foreign aid. But with the international community suspicious of the militant Islamist movement and the United States imposing sanctions on some of its leaders, that support has all but disappeared.

The United Nations estimates that nearly 23 million Afghans – about 55 percent of the population – face extreme hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine when winter arrives.

Life for the poor in Afghanistan has always been tough; Kubra’s family works on farms in the spring and earns potatoes instead of money.

But it’s getting worse. Vegetables like cauliflower are out of reach and plastic sheeting protects your home from frost and snow. There is so little space in the single room that Kubra sleeps with her sister at night.

“My son used to collect junk, but now he has no job,” she said.

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