Dr Najeebullah Hoshang: I’m now safe in Glasgow, but people in Afghanistan need our help

Najeebullah Hoshang spent years as a public health doctor in his native Afghanistan but brought his family to Glasgow in 2019 after his work led to threats for this safety. Here he reveals how people are selling the clothes they are wearing to feed their children and urges the Scottish people who have made him so welcome to donate to the DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal.

As a doctor for more than 20 years it is hard to watch and listen to the daily reports coming from my country, I can hardly believe how quickly the combination of drought, Covid, change of government and economic collapse has brought the country to crisis.  My health contacts across the country tell me that millions face starvation in the days ahead.

Before I came to Scotland I had worked for many years as a leading public health expert for the Afghanistan Government in Kabul.  I helped strengthen the primary health care system all over the country, helping establish new health facilities and services to protect the population from a range of diseases and other health problems

Now I am safe in Glasgow with my wife and four children, settled and trying to build a new life but it is so painful for us to see the desperation of the people we left behind.

More than eight million people are severely short of food and stand on the brink of famine. Children are already dying and a million more under the age of five are at risk of death over the Winter. 

My country has had years of conflict which has brought extreme poverty long before the current crisis.  Then came the worst drought in nearly 30 years and of course the Coronavirus pandemic, which is still spreading in a largely unknown, uncontrolled way.

The most recent violence and change of government have now tipped the country over the edge. Economic collapse has left millions of people without money in their pockets and huge rises in huge prices.  I am hearing that crime is on the rise as more and more people become increasingly desperate for food, not even for them, but for their children to keep them alive.

People are selling the clothes off their own backs to feed their children. Other children are being given away and just last week I heard someone in my community back home made the heartbreaking decision to agree to his 14 year old daughter getting married in the hope that would give her a better chance of survival or some kind of future. And it is going to get worse over Winter.  If we don’t act now, many lives could be lost with more than twenty million people already extremely short of food.

That is why I urge you to support the Disasters Emergency Committee Afghanistan Crisis Appeal that was launched last week.

I worked with humanitarian charities in Afghanistan for many years and I know that they are in the best position to help right now.  They have negotiated access and are now scaling up their operations in those areas where need is greatest.

With your donations they will be able to supply basic food but also special food supplements to keep severely malnourished children alive.  They will be able to provide emergency support for hospitals and other health services that I worked so hard for many years to build up.  They will also provide clean water, blankets and warm clothing, the essentials to keep as many people alive as they can through this awful Winter crisis.

If you can, please don’t delay and support the Appeal now.  A donation of £10 could provide treatment to a child suffering from malnutrition for three weeks – £100 could provide emergency food to a homeless family for three months.

My family knows the generosity and kindness of the people of Glasgow. We will be warm in our homes this Winter with enough food and hope for the future.

Please help the DEC bring at least some hope to millions of my fellow Afghans in the days ahead.

Please donate to the DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal now at donation.dec.org.uk/afghanistan-crisis-appeal

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