Poverty, hunger strike middle-class Afghans with job losses

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Many people in the country have lost their jobs since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. Desperate-desperate Afghan citizens are registering themselves with the United Nations’ World Food Program to get food and cash to survive.

Not long ago, Farishta Salihi and her family were living their life very well. Her husband worked and got a good salary. She could send many of her daughters to private schools. But now her husband has lost his job. His name is also included in the people who registered.

After the registration process was over, Salihi said, “We have lost everything. Our brains are not working.” His eldest daughter, Fatima, had to throw him out of school because he did not have the money to pay her fees and till now the Taliban have not allowed teenage girls to go to government schools.

Within months of the collapse of Afghanistan’s economy, many stable, middle-class families like the Salihi have plunged into desperation. There are clouds of uncertainty about where and how they will pay for their next meal.

This is one of the reasons the United Nations has cautioned against the threat of hunger, with 22 per cent of the 38 million population already close to famine and another 36 per cent facing food insecurity. The main reason for this is that people are not able to afford food.

The economy was already in crisis under the previous, US-backed government, which was often unable to pay its workers. The situation was worsened by the coronavirus pandemic and a severe drought that pushed up food prices. Already in 2020, almost half of Afghanistan’s population was living in poverty. Then after the Taliban seized power on August 15, the countries of the world stopped funding to Afghanistan, which slipped the ground under the feet of the country’s small middle class.

International funds once paid for the government budget – and without it, the Taliban have been largely unable to pay salaries or provide public services. The international community does not recognize the Taliban regime and has called on the extremists to form a more inclusive government and respect human rights.

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