Number of Afghans living in poverty nearly doubles to 34 million

By Salaam Times and AFP

Afghan women take free bread from a charity during the holy month of Ramadan in Kabul on April 13. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Afghan women take free bread from a charity during the holy month of Ramadan in Kabul on April 13. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- About 34 million Afghans are living below the poverty line, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said Tuesday (April 18).

That figure is a staggering increase -- nearly double -- from the last recorded estimate of 19 million in 2020.

There are no contemporary census data for Afghanistan, but the UN uses a population estimate of 40 million, meaning 85% of the nation is projected to be in poverty.

"Some have been compelled to sell their homes, land or assets that generate income," the UNDP report said.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative in Afghanistan, Abdallah al-Dardari, addresses a news conference in Kabul on April 18. 'If foreign aid is reduced this year, Afghanistan may fall from the cliff edge into the abyss,' he said. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative in Afghanistan, Abdallah al-Dardari, addresses a news conference in Kabul on April 18. 'If foreign aid is reduced this year, Afghanistan may fall from the cliff edge into the abyss,' he said. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

"Others have resorted to the distressing practice of commodifying their own family members, turning children into labourers and young daughters into brides."

Vast foreign subsidies were halted and aid programmes dramatically cut back since 2021 as many countries refused to deal with the current rulers in Kabul.

Those NGOs still providing vital help were dealt a further blow in December last year when Afghan women were barred from working for them.

The curb was extended this month to the UN's Afghan female employees, and the organisation said it faces an "appalling choice" over whether to continue its aid schemes.

The order is the latest in a slew of creeping restrictions on the freedoms of women since 2021 that have seen teenage girls barred from schools and women pushed out of universities and many jobs.

'Into the abyss'

The UN airlifts vast sums of US dollars into Afghanistan to pay staff and operating costs -- cash injections that have been vital in shoring up the nation's faltering economy.

About $1.8 billion was imported this way between December 2021 and January 2023, according to the UN's mission in Afghanistan.

It warned at the start of the year "if the volume of assistance that the UN is able to provide diminishes, the amount of cash shipped will be reduced".

Therefore, if the UN winnows down its work, it will have the double effect of reducing aid and cutting a crucial economic lifeline for desperate Afghans.

The UN has also warned that restrictions may turn off the aid tap at the source, with donors wary of committing cash to projects that cannot be implemented.

The UN's 2023 Afghanistan appeal has thus far raised only 5% of its $4.6 billion goal.

"If foreign aid is reduced this year, Afghanistan may fall from the cliff edge into the abyss," the UNDP resident representative in Afghanistan, Abdallah al-Dardari, said in a statement.

'Very negative consequences'

Many organisations suspended their operations in protest against the December ban on NGOs employing Afghan women.

An exemption was granted to those working in the health sector following days of wrangling, but the UNDP said 150 NGOs and aid agencies "have suspended all or part of their work".

Aid officials say they need female workers to help identify and support Afghan female beneficiaries across the country.

"The ban has very negative consequences," al-Dardari told reporters during the release of the UNDP report in Kabul.

"If we don't have those female colleagues, who will knock on the door and provide support and talk to Afghan women in their homes?"

The UN has told all Afghan citizens, both men and women, to stay away from its offices since the ban on Afghan female UN staff from work two weeks ago.

"For now they are working from home and they will continue to be UN staff and they will continue to be paid," al-Dardari said.

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Poverty in Afghanistan is increasing day by day. Aid organizations that provide food aid cannot prevent poverty. It is hoped that the government and international organizations will take care of people's livelihood. This year people will face many problems. It is hoped that the ruling system open space for work in the government departments and allow the organizations to start work and allow women to work in, then the current state of disaster will end.


Poverty is increasing day by day and not decreasing, because in the last two years, the Islamic Emirate has not made any effort to reduce unemployment. We request the international community to help reduce unemployment. Next winter will be the hardest winter for Afghans, cold weather on one side and unemployment on the other!


Where did the terrorists come from? Terrorists and terrorism are just lies. The terrorists are the Pakistani Army, which has been training militants and killing Afghans for the last 40 years. The terrorist is Pakistan's intelligence agency (ISI), which has been giving intellectual training to militants for four decades to destroy schools, clinics, and hospitals,... in Afghanistan, kill teachers and intellectuals, ... and prevent any development. These two organizations are also running machines to kill the people in Kashmir. They kill people in India too. Also, they killed them in Bangladesh. These two organizations had also given shelter to the leader of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. They kept him for five years continuously, but is there anyone in the world who can stop these terrorists and their sponsors? No. And who made these terrorists and the sponsors of terrorists? English General Robert Cathom created ISI. British General Douglas Misery created the Pakistani Army. Britain commits all the vandalism, our religion has been discredited, our homeland has been destroyed, and the Afghan youth who reaches the age of 30 looks like a 60-year-old person compared to the rest of the world because he did not enjoy life, nor did he develop an economy. He didn't get leave, he didn't get any money in his pocket, and he didn't compete with anyone for his goodness. This means that everyone, including the British, Russians, Pakistanis, Iranians, and Americans, oppressed the Afghan people, and no


Along with the Taliban, I hold the international community, especially the United States, responsible for this situation. It was clear to everyone that the Taliban do not deserve and do not have the capacity to govern. They only know how to destroy, how to explode and how to destroy Afghanistan with the orders they receive from Pakistan and especially the damned army of Pakistan, but America sat down with this ignorant group for its own interests, negotiated for several years and surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban. Every day, the Taliban impose the ideas of the era of ignorance on the people of Afghanistan and they want to drag Afghanistan back to the medieval ages because the US surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban and through the Taliban to Pakistan.


I am reading this report on the level of poverty at a time when the United Nations said two days ago that if they do not convince the Taliban to lift the ban on their female colleagues, then they will make a (heartbreaking) decision next May, and they will leave this country. If the Taliban continues its resistance, I call this decision fair; the United Nations will stop its activities in Afghanistan because a person who considers himself the leader of a country should consider the situation of the people. And when the Taliban, as the ruling authorities, do not care about us, why should foreigners take care of us? Since the Taliban banned Afghan female colleagues in the United Nations, more than 3,000 men and women of the United Nations have been sitting at home and not going to work. Among so many people, some have a salary of over 5 thousand dollars. If we take the average salary of $2,000 per employee, it is $3,6 million. If this money is withheld from the common people, 3,000 people will suffer, and thousands of families will be indirectly affected by it. Their lives are going towards death because if there is no money, man naturally cannot meet his daily needs, and if he does not, we will witness the suicide of dozens of people every day.


Poverty in Afghanistan has increased to an extent as no one can find a proper way to get food for eating. Almost 85% of the children from 6 years old to young boys and girls collect plastic and paper from the streets of Kabul city to find a piece of bread for their family. During the rule of Karzai and Ashraf Ghani, when I was leaving home for work in the morning, all the boys and girls were going to school with enthusiasm, and the roads of Kabul city seemed to be looking nice for the boys and girls. Now you can't see any students going to school because there is no difference between the clothes of school students and children who collect paper and plastic. 85% of the people of Afghanistan became so poor that they could not buy school supplies for their sons and daughters. Because if he is a shopkeeper or a government employee, their income is decreasing day by day and they cannot provide for the needs of their sons and daughters who go to school. Anyone who owns a shop in Kabul city or in another province of Afghanistan owes only the rent of their shop to the shop owners. They cannot make provisions and pay the minimum rent for their shop. The shopkeepers also used the capital they had in the shop. Due to the lack of work, they do not have enough income to eat its provisions. For this reason, they ate the capital of their shops. Most of the shops were closed. The people of Afghanistan are in a bad economic situation. Foreign countries should recognize the current government