Afghan people line up to fill containers with water in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of the western city of Herat. A deadly drought in Afghanistan is causing a humanitarian crisis that has displaced more people in 2018 than the war between the government and the Taliban. Photo: AFP

By Secunder Kermani
17 October 2018

(BBC News) – A deadly drought in Afghanistan is causing a humanitarian crisis that has displaced more people this year than the war between the government and the Taliban. The BBC's Secunder Kermani reports from Herat.

Shadi Mohammed, 70, wells up with tears as he walks through the makeshift camp on the outskirts of the western city of Herat, where he lives with his family.

"We are thirsty and hungry. We took what little we could with us, but lost most of it on the way. Now we have nothing. Eight of us live in this small tent," he says.

"My wife and my brother died. Half of our children are here. The other half were left behind."

Mr Mohammed is one of an estimated 260,000 people who have been forced from their homes in northern and western Afghanistan because of a severe drought in the region. […]

Qadir Assemy from the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) is helping co-ordinate the relief effort in Herat, which has seen an influx of people fleeing their homes.

"It's very challenging because of the scale of the disaster," he tells the BBC. "We haven't seen such a large scale disaster in the last 18 years." […]

One woman sitting with four young children tells me she has recently arrived from the northern province of Faryab. […]

"There was no rain for more than a year. Everything dried up. We didn't even have water to give to our children. On top of that there was fighting between the Taliban and the army. It was chaos."

Others described being forced to sell their livestock or borrow money simply to survive. Agriculture is one of the country's main sources of income. [more]

Afghan drought 'displacing more people than Taliban conflict'


An Afghan boy and girl carry water containers in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of the western city of Herat. A deadly drought in Afghanistan is causing a humanitarian crisis that has displaced more people in 2018 than the war between the government and the Taliban. Photo: AFP

GENEVA, 11 September 2018 (Reuters) - A total of 275,000 people have been displaced by drought in western Afghanistan - 52,000 more than the number uprooted by conflict this year - with over two million threatened by the effects of water shortages, the United Nations said.

Reports from the U.N. and aid charities described farmers lacking seeds to sow following crop failures in some areas and livestock dying for the want of anything to eat.

Afghanistan, a country where nearly 20 million people rely on farming, has suffered a 45 per cent fall in agricultural output this year as the drought has bitten, officials at the ministry of agriculture have said.

In a regular update, the U.N. humanitarian office reported that 120,000 people fleeing the drought arrived in Qala-e-Naw city in Badghis province in the week of 9 September 2018.

A second U.N. report, with data covering August, said more than 100,000 people may have moved to Herat city for the same reason by the end of last month. It estimated 2.2 million Afghans would be affected by the drought this year.

In Qala-e-Naw, where there are an estimated 66,500 drought-displaced people, supplies and humanitarian aid are already insufficient to meet the needs of newly arrived families.

The U.N. cited an assessment by aid charity World Vision International that 99 percent of people in Badghis said their food situation was worse or a lot worse than a year ago.

“The assessment also indicates that most farmers lost last season’s harvest and nearly all of them lack seeds for new planting season,” the U.N. report said, noting reports that about 40 per cent of livestock has been lost in Badghis due to a lack of pasture and fodder.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), a U.S. funded food security monitoring service, said in a report on Aug. 31 that the number of Afghans in a food “crisis” was atypically high.

“Crisis” is step three on a five step scale, where four is “emergency” and five is “catastrophe” and possible famine. [more]

More Afghans displaced by drought than conflict, U.N. says

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