Afghanistan Likely Facing Coronavirus ‘Health Disaster’: SIGAR

Afghanistan, beset by a poor healthcare system, malnutrition, war and other vulnerabilities, likely is facing a “health disaster” from the coronavirus, a watchdog report to the U.S. Congress warns.

The report released late on Thursday by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko could heighten concerns among U.S. officials and lawmakers that the pandemic threatens to derail stalled U.S.-led peace efforts.

The spread of COVID-19 already has significantly impacted Afghanistan, the report said, from complicating the peace initiative to forcing border crossing closures that have disrupted commercial and humanitarian deliveries.

“Afghanistan’s numerous and, in some cases, unique vulnerabilities – a weak health-care system, widespread malnutrition, porous borders, massive internal displacement, contiguity with Iran, and ongoing conflict – make it likely the country will confront a health disaster in the coming months,” the report said.

Rising food prices in the impoverished country likely will worsen the crisis, Sopko said in a letter accompanying the report.

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