Afghan food-for-work program amid food shortages

Monday marks three months since the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan on August 15. The country's economy is worsening and a humanitarian crisis is deepening, with the Taliban's interim government yet to gain international recognition and Afghan overseas assets frozen.

Amid worsening food shortages, the Taliban last month began providing wheat to people in exchange for their labor in public works.

About 2,000 citizens were seen working with shovels and pickaxes at a construction site in Kabul.

A 66-year-old former teacher said he is capable of any clerical work, but no such work is available and his family would starve if he doesn't work at the construction site.

A Taliban member who oversees the work site said the food-for-work program has public support because its purpose is to help people facing unemployment and hunger.

The Taliban say they are releasing 66,000 tons of wheat from the agriculture ministry's stock and plan to distribute 10 kilograms to each person in exchange for a day's work.

Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi called for emergency international aid, saying that humanitarian assistance should not be linked to political issues.