Arnon Grunberg



On malnutrition – Juan Cole:

‘The United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) announced a few days ago that 14 million people in Afghanistan are at risk of acute food insecurity in a matter of weeks. That is about a third of the population. It is up from 11 million last spring, when the WFP and other aid agencies had over time reduced the proportion of the food insecure from 42 percent to 35 percent.
Some 2 million children are under a worse threat, of actual malnutrition. Food insecurity is where you will be malnourished if any little thing goes wrong, like you miss one paycheck. For those 2 million children, things have already gone wrong and they’re unlikely to get enough to eat starting in September.
At least some people in 27 of 34 provinces are facing severe malnutrition even now.’


‘Alexander Cornwell at Reuters quoted WFP head Peter Beasely as saying, “There’s a perfect storm coming because of several years of drought, conflict, economic deterioration, compounded by COVID . . .” Not to mention the Taliban takeover.
The WFP is saying it needs $200 million to avert famine in the war-torn country. The majority of UN aid workers remain in the country, though some have left for Kazakhstan. The WFP accepts tax-deductible donations here.
Things will get much worse now, since the Afghan economy has just gone off a cliff. The U.S. has frozen $9.5 billion in Afghanistan government money held in the National Bank but reposited in U.S. financial institutions. The Afghan news service Tolo reports that the World Bank has cut off Afghanistan, halting the $5.3 billion it had committed to development projects in that country on the grounds that women’s rights there are now being rolled back.’


‘All the money that flooded into the country because of the European and North American troop presence and support for the country in 2002-2012 caused the GDP growth per annum to soar to 9.5 percent in those years. But from 2012 European countries began getting out and the U.S. much reduced its forces, and the foreign money fell off quite a lot. In 2015-2020 Afghanistan only grew 2.5 percent per annum, and since it has a high population growth rate, the per capita increase was small. In fact, poverty shot up in the past five years, which is one reason the Taliban took over so easily.
Now all those billions in foreign support have abruptly dried up. Afghanistan is on its own. And it is one of the poorest countries in the world. It just got dramatically poorer.’

Read the article here.

Evacuating your interpreter, your fixer and your driver (and their families) is the right thing to do, needless to say. Based on my experiences in Iraq I would say that many interpreters were hoping to get a visa out of Afghanistan regardless of the return of the Taliban.
But these evacuations are (were?) nothing but a drop in the ocean. How to evacuate two million children?

And this was hardly mentioned elsewhere: the state of the economy helped the Taliban immensely.
How to defend Kandahar on a few potatoes?

It will be a couple of months and then it’s business with the new Afghanistan as usual, as was mentioned here before. Businessmen, aid workers, spies, mercenaries and diplomats will trickle in.
The children can die in the schools that were built on auspices of the NATO in Afghanistan. Feeble buildings by the way, from what I have seen.

If corruption is the only way of surviving, it’s hard not to be corrupted.