Wednesday, December 8, 2021

97 % of Afghans could plunge into poverty by mid 2022: UNDP

In a report, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said that 97 percent of Afghans could plunge into poverty by mid 2022. The study, which analysed four potential scenarios of escalating intensity and isolation, indicates that real GDP could contract by as much as 13.2 percent, leading to an increase in the poverty rate of up to 25 percentage points.

UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific Kanni Wignaraja said that half of the population is already in need of humanitarian support. This analysis suggests that Afghanistan is on course for rapid, catastrophic deterioration in the economic front.

The UNDP report added, in addition to a prolonged drought and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Afghanistan is contending with the upheaval caused by the current political transition: frozen foreign reserves, collapsing public finances, increasing pressure on the banking system, and rising poverty.

In response, UNDP is proposing a package of interventions designed to help improve the immediate living conditions of the most vulnerable people and communities, prioritising safeguarding women and girls’ rights.

But the Afghan central bank’s $10 billion in assets are parked overseas, where they are considered a key instrument for the West to pressure the Taliban. The U.S. Treasury Department said it is not easing Taliban sanctions or loosening curbs on the Islamist group’s access to the global financial system.

In the meantime, U.N. special envoy on Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons warned that the freezing of billions of dollars in Afghan assets to keep them out of Taliban hands would inevitably spark “a severe economic downturn” and could push millions more Afghans into poverty and hunger.




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