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UN launches largest ever humanitarian appeal to stop Afghanistan catastrophe

The United Nations is launching the world’s largest humanitarian fundraising appeal for a single country in a bid to avert a catastrophe of hunger and poverty in Afghanistan.

Tens of thousands of children face death from malnutrition, millions have fled their homes and the economy is in free fall after a long-running crisis sharply accelerated with the Taliban takeover.

The UN’s humanitarian and refugee branches have launched aid plans which need more than £3.7bn ($5bn) of donations this year.

The £3.2bn Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan will be the largest humanitarian appeal ever launched. The plan seeks to ramp up the delivery of life-saving food and agriculture support, health services, emergency shelter, access to water and sanitation, protection and emergency education to the country.

The separate Afghanistan Situation Regional Refugee Response Plan requires £459m ($623m) to provide protection, health and nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation, employment and education to refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries like Iran and Pakistan.

Forty years of conflict, the worst drought in decades and international sanctions following the victory of the Taliban insurgency have left the country on the brink of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Half the 39m population face acute hunger, nine million have left their homes and the economy is close to collapse.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said: “Events in Afghanistan over the past year have unfolded with dizzying speed and with profound consequences for the Afghan people.

“The world is perplexed and looking for the right way to react. Meanwhile, a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe looms.

“My message is urgent: don’t shut the door on the people of Afghanistan. Help us scale up and stave off wide-spread hunger, disease, malnutrition and ultimately death by supporting the humanitarian plans we are launching today.”

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