Children dying of malnutrition in Afghanistan: Officials

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Children are dying of starvation in Afghanistan, local and international sources said Saturday, following warnings that a million youngsters there could face life-threatening malnutrition by the end of the year.

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In Ghor, one of the affected provinces, at least 17 children among those who made it to hospital have died from malnutrition in the last six months, the province’s public health director Mullah Mohammad Ahmadi told AFP.

Almost 300 have been treated for the effects of hunger.

Hundreds of children are at risk of starvation in central parts of the country, he said.

A spokesman for the United Nations children’s agency in Afghanistan said he could not confirm the number of deaths in Ghor but feared “a lot of children are paying the ultimate price”.

UNICEF’s Salam Al-Janabi said the agency’s monitoring network had been disrupted and was relying on anecdotal reports, but “we are very painfully aware that this is something we are on the brink of, or in the middle of.”

Since the Taliban swept to power in mid-August, Afghanistan has plunged deeper into an already dire humanitarian crisis.

The effects of drought, soaring food prices and job losses have been compounded by international aid and financing all but grinding to a halt.

The UN has warned that by the end of the year one million children under the age of five in Afghanistan are expected to need treatment for life-threatening “acute severe malnutrition”, while another 3.3 million will be suffering from acute malnutrition.

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