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Afghan mothers give ‘sleeping pills’ to calm hungry children

by Afonso
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Children of Afghanistan are struggling with severe hunger. A British woman named Sohaila Niazi said, ‘I was able to buy milk for my child for the last time two months ago. Now sometimes I give them only tea without milk. Sometimes I let them eat bread soaked in tea.’

According to the British media BBC, his house is on a hill in eastern Kabul. There is no good way to get there. A sewage drain is flowing by the side of the house. One has to walk down the steep slope of the hill to go home.
Sohaila’s husband died last year. This widow has six children. The youngest is 15 months old. What Sohaila calls tea, is a traditional drink of Afghanistan. It is made with green leaves and hot water. It has no nutritional content.

The BBC says there are a million people in Afghanistan. Sohaila is one of the one million people who have not received any emergency food aid from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) for the past year. Because the United Nations has stopped this aid program in Afghanistan. The country is facing a huge food crisis. Millions of children spend their days in agony of hunger. Sometimes they are lucky to have just one cup of tea a day.

Sohaila said, after the Taliban came to power, we women cannot go outside to work. There are many nights when my children go to bed hungry and wake up hungry.

In a tearful voice, this woman also said, “Sometimes I give sleeping pills to calm the hungry children.” I desperately want them to wake up and not want milk. Because I don’t have any milk. Once given sleeping pills, they sleep from morning until the next day. I sometimes check to see if they are alive.

The BBC has inquired about the medicine that Sohaila gave her child. They found out that antihistamine or anti-allergy drug type. Doctors told the BBC, “We also know that Afghan parents are giving their children these drugs to make them sleep.” But applying it in high doses can cause breathing problems in children.

Last year, Sohaila’s husband died in the crossfire between Taliban forces and anti-Taliban forces in Panjshir province. Since then he has been dependent on flour, oil, beans and other food aid from WFP. Now WFP says it has food aid left to feed only 3 million people. That’s less than a quarter of the starving people in Afghanistan.

According to UNICEF, at least 3 million children are suffering from malnutrition in Afghanistan. More than a quarter of them suffer from acute malnutrition.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said health facilities had been withdrawn from most hospitals, including the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan’s only children’s hospital.

They asked the Taliban administration about international aid, the BBC reported. Zabihullah Mujahid, the chief spokesman of the Taliban government, said in response, “The aid is stopped because the economy of the donor countries is not good. In addition, there have been two major catastrophes—the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. So we cannot expect help from them. We have no choice but to be self-reliant. Meanwhile our economy has stabilized and we are trying to create thousands of jobs in the mines.


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