It's no wonder Afghanistan is the world's unhappiest country. Afghans struggling to survive amid Taliban rule are selling their daughters and kidneys just to feed their families, and that isn't always enough. Amidst an economic crisis spurred in part by a freeze on foreign funds, one of the world's most severe hunger crises is affecting 22.8 million people, or more than 1 of every 2 Afghans, per NDTV. The UN's World Food Program finds 90% of households cannot meet their food needs. A man in his 20s tells the BBC that he sold his kidney for $3,100 to repay money used to buy food for his family because "I had no option." A woman says she sold her kidney for $2,700 to repay money used to buy sheep, which drowned in a flood. "Now we are being forced to sell our two-year-old daughter," the woman says.
"Over and over again, we heard of people selling their daughters," per the BBC. "We understand it's against Islamic laws, and that we're putting our children's lives in danger, but there's no other way," says a community leader. Many families share a few pieces of bread between them each day. A piece of bread costs about 10 US cents, the same as five tablets of tranquilizer drugs like alprazolam, better known as Xanax. Nearly a dozen men tell the BBC that they give the pills to their children. "Our children keep crying, and they don't sleep," says a man living in a settlement outside Herat. "We have no food … so we go to the pharmacy, get tablets and give them to our children so that they feel drowsy."
At facilities run by Doctors Without Borders, admissions for malnutrition have increased nearly 50% in the past year. The BBC saw a 14-month-old who was malnourished and weighed the same as a newborn. A Taliban spokesman in Herat blames "international sanctions" and "the freezing of Afghan assets" but also claims "many are lying about their conditions because they think they can get help." In countries including Afghanistan, "children are simply trying to survive, and the odds are now firmly stacked against them," Eleanor Monbiot of World Vision writes at Al Jazeera. The WFP is working to prevent starvation by sending food to rugged and remote areas before winter sets in, though funding is an issue. (Hunger is also fueling child marriages.)