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Afghans will struggle for their lives this winter, says Red Cross

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The conditions in Taliban-held Afghanistan will be worse in the year ahead, and more Afghans are bound to struggle for survival, a top Red Cross official said.The country is about to endure its second winter since the religious group's seizure of power in August 2021 -- a shock event that fundamentally transformed Afghanistan, driving millions into poverty and hunger as foreign aid stopped almost overnight."The economic hardship is there.

It's very serious, and people will struggle for their lives," Martin Schüepp, director of operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, said in an interview late on Sunday.Sanctions on Taliban rulers, a halt on bank transfers and billions frozen in Afghanistan's currency reserves have already restricted access to global institutions and the outside money that supported the country's economy before the withdrawal of US and NATO forces.The onset of winter will compound the acute humanitarian needs that half the country is already facing, Schüepp pointed out."Prices are spiking due to a whole set of reasons, but also the issue of sanctions has led to massive consequences," he said. "We see more and more Afghans who are having to sell their belongings to make ends meet, where they have to buy materials for heating while at the same time have to face increasing costs for food and other essential items."Sanctions are a challenge in getting aid and the necessary supplies to the country in a timely fashion, and it is key that all sanctions have humanitarian exemptions so organisations like the ICRC can continue their work, he said.The Red Cross is already paying the salaries of 10,500 medical staff every month to ensure basic healthcare services stay afloat, he added."We are

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