Afghanistan risks being a forgotten crisis as 9m people on brink of starvation

ITV News' Sejal Karia reports on the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

While all eyes have been on the war in Ukraine, the situation in Afghanistan has continued to deteriorate with nine million people - many children - on the brink of starvation.

Less than a year after Taliban fighters seized power, Afghanistan is buckling under a debilitating humanitarian crisis where some 23 million people face acute food insecurity, the UN says.

Salam Al-Janabi from Unicef Afghanistan said the country was coming out of a "very difficult winter" where there has been a rise in preventable diseases, and a malnutrition crisis across the country.

In a Kandahar hospital, the tiniest of lives are on the brink of starvation. Credit: ITV News

"If this is no support... a whole generation are at risk," he told ITV News.

Mr Janabi said it is "shocking to see how emaciated and helpless these children are when they are at a point of severe acute malnourishment".

"The situation has sadly deteriorated over the last couple of months" - Salam Al-Janabi from Unicef Afghanistan on the humanitarian situation facing the country since the Taliban

"It is really crushing and heartbreaking. When we know we can support (them), the world can support. There is a way out of this," Mr Janabi told ITV News.

"When you talk to a mother who tells you that what's she's cooking today is just a couple of potatoes that she puts in a pot and boils them so that the kids think that there is actually food coming, and this is all she has at home."

"It is shocking to see how emaciated and helpless these children are when they are at a point of severe acute malnourishment".

"Or when you talk to a teacher who is actually ashamed to tell you that over the last couple of months, she's had to go over to her neighbours to beg for food because salaries weren't being paid.

"I hope that the world, when they look at the big numbers also consider behind these numbers are actual people who really, really at this moment need humanitarian life saving support."

Afghan children carry containers of water at Gul Ghundi park in the city of Charikar in Parwan province, north of Kabul Credit: Rahmat Gul/AP

A doctor described how people - most of whom have "complications"- seek treatment at Malalai Hospital from the different suburbs of Kabul.

"Our workload is too much, we have too many newborn children and births," she said.

"We would be very happy if we had more doctors."

'Our workload is too much,' the doctor said

Figures from UNICEF

  • 24.4m in need of humanitarian assistance

  • 13.1m of those are children

  • 1.1m of those children acutely malnourished

The UK co-hosted an international pledging conference for Afghanistan on Thursday, to support the UN's largest ever humanitarian appeal in hope of collecting $4.4 billion for the country in crisis that was taken over by Taliban militants in August last year.

The UN says 10 million children need urgent aid to survive.

Children receive medical attention at a camp in Afghanistan. Credit: Unicef

“Ukraine is of vital importance, but Afghanistan, you know, calls to our soul for commitment and loyalty,” said Martin Griffiths, who heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ahead of Thursday’s pledge drive.

“In simple terms, the humanitarian program that we are appealing for is to save lives.”

Children can be seen playing in a camp in Afghanistan. Credit: Unicef

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said that while Ukrainians need help, the world must not forget those in Afghanistan where 95% of the population does not have enough to eat and children are suffering from malnutrition.  

In his address to the conference, Gordon Brown said: "I​t is urgent and morally imperative to do all we can to support the people of Ukraine, but it would be wrong to forget the starving, freezing, demoralised people of Afghanistan in their times of greatest need."

Mr Brown said while some food has managed to reach some people in Afghanistan, many civilians, especially girls, are "becoming the invisible people of the world".

"The forgotten people, the neglected people who are not seen," he said.

Mr Brown said girls in Afghanistan are particularly vulnerable

"It is time that the conference makes money available for humanitarian aid," the former Labour prime minister added.

He says "you do not need to support the regime to give aid when children particularly are facing death and starvation and are freezing."

The UN told ITV News the amount raised from the conference on Thursday fell massively short of what is needed to save millions of lives.

To make a donation to the DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal, visit, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 610 or send a cheque.

To donate £10 text SUPPORT to 70150.