- A year ago, Kabul residents navigated blast walls and roadside bombs. Now, five months into Taliban rule, Afghans fear hunger.
- Some Afghans, out of desperation to feed their families, tell Insider they have donated a kidney for money or donated dangerous amounts of blood.
- The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian “catastrophe” in Afghanistan if the international community doesn’t offer emergency assistance.
In November, Jahish Sahar Samir posted to Facebook an offer to sell 100 books – a collection of poetry anthologies and novels that had been years in the making – for a mere 4,000 Afghanis, or about $38.
On Dec. 4, Samir posted another offer: “One kidney for sale.”
Immediately, the 27-year-old novelist and teacher was inundated with messages of shock and disbelief, discouraging his plan.
“No one could believe it,” he said in an interview. “They all thought I was joking. None of them took it seriously.”
But like many Afghans this winter, Samir was growing desperate.
Over WhatsApp, Afghans have shared pictures of signs that say “kidneys for sale.”(When Insider tried the number provided, it appeared to not be working.) Meanwhile, long lines have been reported at blood banks, where a single draw can earn the donor about $47 – enough to feed a family for a few weeks. In some cases, people have reported donating their blood at a rate well beyond what’s considered healthy and safe.
In cities, streets have been lined with televisions, refrigerators, carpets and other household items that residents are putting up for sale.
Before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Aug. 15, Samir taught Dari literature at a private school in Kabul and was a member of Kabul’s Pen Society, a collective of poets and writers. But the school closed down and, since then, Samir has found it increasingly tough to find money to feed his family.
An UNHCR worker pushes a wheelbarrow loaded with aid supplies outside a distribution center in Kabul on Oct. 28, 2021.
“Life has become this daily challenge,” he said. “The costs just keep piling up. Food, rent and finding ways to keep warm during the winter, it’s all just so much.”
A year ago, Kabul residents navigated blast walls and roadside bombs. Now, all across the country, Afghans fear hunger.
With the arrival of winter, the UN says nearly nine million people are at the risk of famine and up to one million children could die from the cold and hunger. Last month, the World Food Programme reported that 98 percent of Afghans don’t have enough to eat.