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A grandmother prays for her grandson, Mohammed, who is being treated for liver failure at Indira Gandhi Children's Hospital in Kabul. U.S.-led sanctions and severe drought have contributed to a financial crisis in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in August, plunging many Afghans into hunger and poverty.  (Photo by Paula Bronstein)
The Big Story

Afghanistan nightmare: a humanitarian crisis that threatens to dwarf all others

Following the U.S. withdrawal, desperation amid food and medicine shortages

ANDREW NORTH, Contributing writer | Afghanistan

KABUL -- It was the love of her parents that brought Ruqia all the way from northern Afghanistan to a Kabul hospital, as they sank themselves in debt to pay for a last effort to save their starving daughter.

But seeing Ruqia's motionless form in the emergency room, it was hard to believe she was still alive. Her ribs poked from her chest like rows of knives; her head was more of a skull. Where the eyes of an 11-year-old girl should have been, there was only a vacant darkness. And she weighed just 13 kg.

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