INDIA – The Government of India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver humanitarian assistance comprising 10,000mt of wheat for the people of Afghanistan.
Afghan citizens are reeling from the effects of the acute food crisis in the country due to severe drought, a faltering economy, and many years of military conflict.
A 6.5 magnitude earthquake in the northeastern part of Afghanistan in March is the latest obstacle the country is trying to overcome.
The MoU marks the fifth tranche of the food aid India committed to in 2020 and will be shipped through Iran’s Chabahar Port.
Last year, the Government of India shipped 40,000 mt of wheat to Afghanistan, contributing to WFP’s efforts to reach 23 million food-insecure people.
“India’s support has been a lifeline for Afghan families facing hunger, and it is a critical part of WFP’s humanitarian response. I want to extend our sincere gratitude to the Indian government for its continued support to the people of Afghanistan,” said Elisabeth Faure, representative and country director for WFP in India.
The WFP provides that since August 2022, 90% of the Afghan population has fallen short of its food needs, with nearly 20 million Afghans not knowing from where their next meal will come, and 6 million people being one step away from famine.
Moreover, about two-thirds of the population- more than 28 million people- needs humanitarian assistance this year. This number is 10 million more than it was two years ago.
The Taliban government in Kabul took charge in August 2021 through a quick military campaign that unfolded alongside the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan.
This is a great contributor to the food crisis that is going on in the war-torn nation, and it continues to impede the people’s access to help from without the country.
While India has not recognized the Taliban government, it maintains that it requires “unimpeded access” to the people of Afghanistan to ensure that the humanitarian goods sent reach them without getting diverted to the tribal warlords and local Taliban leaders.
India’s donation comes despite recent reports by the Global Agricultural Information Network from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it is unlikely to relax its export ban on wheat and wheat products because of high food inflation.