In a large, simple settlement in western Afghanistan, Aziz Gul is fighting to save her daughter.
Her husband sold the 10-year-old girl into marriage without telling his wife. He took a down-payment so he could feed his family of five children. Without that money, he told his wife, they would all starve. He had to sacrifice one child to save the rest.
Many of Afghanistan’s poorest people are making such decisions as their nation faces severe poverty.
The aid-dependent country’s economy was already struggling when the Taliban seized power last August. The international community then froze Afghanistan’s valuables overseas and halted all funding, unwilling to work with a Taliban government.
The effects of such actions have been devastating. Aid groups now say more than half the population faces severe food shortages.
“Day by day, the situation is deteriorating in this country, and especially children are suffering,” said Asuntha Charles. She is national director of the World Vision aid organization in Afghanistan. The organization runs a health center for displaced people just outside the western city of Herat.
Charles said, “Today I have been heartbroken to see that the families are willing to sell their children to feed other family members."