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Afghan people queue up to board a U.S. military aircraft to leave Afghanistan. Photo: Shakib Rahmani/AFP via Getty Images

Some 14 million people in Afghanistan are facing severe hunger following the Taliban's takeover, according to the head of the UN's food agency.

Why it matters: The country has already faced a severe drought — its second in three years — and COVID-19's social and economic impacts. The Taliban's siege has elevated the situation in Afghanistan from dire to catastrophic, World Food Program’s (WFP) country director Mary Ellen McGroarty said.

By the numbers: The drought led to the loss of 40% of crops, which has caused a "devastating impact" on livestock, McGroarty said in a video briefing to UN correspondents from Kabul this week.

  • With the Taliban now in power, hundreds of thousands of people are displaced, she said.

"Really, the race is on to get food where it’s most needed," she said.

  • "We are actively reaching out to the new authorities for unimpeded humanitarian access," McGroarty noted.
    • She urged donors to provide the $200 million needed to get food into Afghanistan before roads are blocked off this winter.
  • WFP was able to access 4 million people in May and plans to expand operations to reach 9 million "over the next couple of months, but there are many, many challenges," she added.

Worth noting: UNICEF also warned this week that 1 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of becoming severely malnourished by end of 2021.

The big picture: Thousands of Afghans are fleeing the country to escape the Taliban, which has spurred calls for open borders.

  • "The United Nations Assistance Mission has warned that without a significant de-escalation in violence, Afghanistan is on course to witness the highest ever number of documented civilian casualties in a single year since the UN’s records began," the United Nations refugee agency said last week.

Go deeper: The Afghanistan exit

Go deeper

Zalmay Khalilzad steps down as Afghanistan envoy

Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

Zalmay Khalilzad stepped down as special envoy for Afghanistan peace talks on Monday, two months after the Taliban seized control of Kabul in a disastrous conclusion to the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: Khalilzad was the architect of the Trump administration's 2019 peace deal with the Taliban, which the head of U.S. Central Command called "the primary accelerant to lowering morale and general efficiency of the Afghan military."

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.