In Afghanistan’s fast-emerging food crisis, a mother from Afghan had to sell her one-year-old twins in order to raise money for the other. 

The 40-year-old woman, from northern Jawzjan province, gave the baby to a childless couple in return for $104 which she hoped would buy enough food to last her family for another six months.

After the drought forced them to leave their farm in January, they moved to a city nearby. There her husband and second-eldest child worked as labourers prior the August fallout from the Taliban.

Now, the UN warns Afghanistan that over half its population will starve this winter. This is compounded because many international agencies have fled Afghanistan after the collapse of the government and the drying up of aid.

Save the Children discovered the family’s dire situation and sent workers to distribute food. 

A 40-year-old mother from Afghanistan has told how she was forced to sell her newborn twin son to get enough food to feed his sister (pictured, the woman holds her baby girl)

Afghan mother of 40 years has spoken out about her experience selling her twin brother to her sister to buy enough food for her daughter. (pictured: the woman holding her baby girl).

The mother said her family were forced off their farm in Afghanistan's Jawzjan province earlier this year by drought, and the collapse of the economy has made it impossible to find work

The mother said her family were forced off their farm in Afghanistan’s Jawzjan province earlier this year by drought, and the collapse of the economy has made it impossible to find work

Talking to the workers from charity, the Afghan mother said that the twins were her own children. They had been born around 4 or 5 months ago. This was shortly after they left their farm because of drought.

As she sat in the bare space, covered in the rugs of a mosque nearby, the woman said that all the clothing for children were donated and second-hand.

Although she had originally planned to have both of her children, she was unable to find enough food to feed them all. Usually, it was bread and milk powder. 

She is married to a 45-year-old labourer, but he claims there aren’t enough jobs in the five days he works. His day’s wage, $1, covers only two days worth of food.

Mother said that the second-eldest son is also employed at the local market pushing carts used by stall owners to transport produce.

Because he is so young, his owners may prefer him to have stronger children.

A woman who saw the newborns crying from hunger told how a married couple offered her $104 for her baby. 

She initially refused to do so, but after seeing him cry and not eating for several days she realized that she had to give him up in order to support her other children.

“It was hard. More difficult than you might imagine. Destitution was the reason I had to give my baby away. He was in need of me and my finances were not sufficient to support him.

The woman's husband, 45, holds the hand of another of their seven children near the home where they now live - wearing clothes donated by others

A 45 year old husband of the woman holds another child in the palm of his hands. The children are now living at their current home.

The family survives almost completely on bread which they bake from flour, and are sometimes able to get milk powder to give to the baby

Family survives on bread, which is made from flour. Sometimes they can get milk powder for the baby.

“I gave all the money to my wife. He bought flour, oil, rice and flour. These were all finished.  

Her husband added:  ‘We need help, we are hungry and poor. 

“There is no job opportunity in Afghanistan. There are children. We need flour and oil the most, which we don’t have. It’s also good to have firewood.

“I cannot afford meat within the next two to three months.” The only thing we have is bread, which isn’t always readily available.

Save the Children sent emergency supplies to the family. 

You gave them items to use in the kitchen: blankets, winter clothes, shoes, and tool kits.

Workers were also informed of another case in which a mother with twins was forced by her family, to abandon one child because of malnutrition. However, she refused.

The woman’s 18-month-old twins , are both unwell and weak. With the weather getting colder and the little suffering from severe malnutrition, the woman explained she can’t afford to care for her children as a single parent.

“My son and daughter were so hungry that they cried the whole night.” My house is empty. “We have no food or flour in our house, so we don’t have anything,” she stated. 

‘My husband doesn’t send us money. (He says) “let her die”. Everyone was telling me, “We will buy her”, but I didn’t give her up.’

Another woman, also the mother of twins, told how her daughter is malnourished and her relatives have urged her to leave the girl to starve or else sell her

A second woman who is also a mother to twins shared how her child was malnourished. Her relatives urged her not to give her the girl food or to sell her.

Save the Children projects that there will be 3.2 million Afghan children suffering from acute malnutrition in the coming winter.  

Nora Hassanien is acting Country Director for Afghanistan. She said, “It’s absolutely heartbreaking that some Afghan family members are forced to resort to extreme and desperate measures to ensure their survival and the well-being of their children.” 

“A parent shouldn’t ever be forced to abandon a child.

“Millions” of Afghan children, many of whom have lived through the war in their lives, are being forced to starve. 

The temperatures dropping to well below freezing will mean that thousands of families are unable to purchase fuel this winter to stay warm. It could lead to illness or even death for children.

“Time is running out for children to receive the vital help that they require to make it through winter. Sanctions and counterterrorism policies are preventing aid from reaching the people who really need it.

Save the Children calls on governments to immediately exempt existing anti-terrorist and sanction policies to enable the rapid and continuous delivery of vital humanitarian aid. 

Despite the girl being sick from malnutrition, the woman says she refuses to give her up

The woman claims that she will not give up on the little girl, despite her being malnourished.