The worst drought that Afghanistan has suffered in decades and that has led families in rural areas to deliver their children as payment for debts centers the international conference of two days convened by the UN in Geneva to evaluate the progress of the reforms to which the Government committed itself.
"We estimate that 3.6 million people are at level 4 of food insecurity, which represents the previous step to the famine," reveals the UN coordinator for humanitarian assistance. to Afghanistan, Toby Lanzer.
More generally, an estimated 10.6 million people, or half of the Afghan rural population, have difficulty feeding or meeting their nutritional needs.
"The drought has sharpened the practice of child marriage involving at least 155 girls and 6 children from affected populations in two provinces," UNICEF spokeswoman Alison Parker told reporters.
In comments on the sidelines of the conference on Afghanistan, Parker explained that the massive loss of livestock and other assets has forced many families to contract debts to survive and that they are now "faced with the dilemma of subjecting the whole family to hunger or surrendering one or more children for a marriage or for the service of the creditor. "
Child marriage is a practice still widespread in the Asian country and affecting up to 35% of children in a country that is eminently young, with 17.5 million inhabitants - out of a total of 30 million - who have less than 18 years.
The conference on Afghanistan brings together representatives of governments, the private sector and civil society in Switzerland to assess the progress of the reforms in that country and the use of financial aid that donors have allocated for this purpose.
The Afghan president, Ashraf Gani, was the main speaker at one of the events of the conference whose main audience was entrepreneurs, to whom he explained the willingness of his country to reform the productive base of the economy.
He explained that for this the most important thing is to get out of the logic of exporting a dozen raw materials without added value, which does not allow Afghanistan to take advantage of trade preferences granted by the European Union and several other industrialized countries.
Ministers from some 70 countries have announced their participation on Wednesday on the second day of the conference, in which a mid-way review of the pledges of financing that the international community made to Afghanistan in 2016 for a period of four years and will be made. the use that is being given.
"We are going to analyze the agenda of the reform, the fight against corruption, the investments made in health and education, as well as the measures to propitiate the activities of the private sector," explained Lanzer.
However, the new and severe humanitarian crisis suffered by Afghanistan due to the combination of conflict and drought focused a great deal of attention on this conference, with announcements from aid agencies and the European Union to deal with its aftermath.
The UN World Food Program declared that it will expand its response to the drought by providing essential supplies to 2.5 million affected people in twenty provinces during the next six months.
For its part, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported on its plan to help 1.4 million Afghans among the population most vulnerable to drought.
The European Union will sign a package of five financing agreements for a total of 474 million euros for Afghanistan during this conference.