KABUL (AFP) - Five million Afghans face serious food shortages with winter drawing near, but donors have put forward less than a fifth of the money needed to cope, development charity Oxfam warned Saturday. Time is running out to avert a humanitarian crisis, the British-based group said, urging governments to respond to an emergency humanitarian appeal launched in July. "Up to five million Afghans face severe food shortages, yet the appeal for Afghanistan has a huge funding shortfall, with less than a fifth of the 404 million US dollars needed to respond," Oxfam said in a statement. "Large parts of Afghanistan are facing crisis as a result of the cumulative effect of factors including the harsh winter, high food prices, drought, and increasing and spreading insecurity." One of the hardest-hit provinces is central Daikundi, where an Oxfam assessment shows people may be facing the worst conditions in more than 20 years. "As it is almost impossible to deliver aid to rural areas during the harsh Afghan winter, concerted action is needed now to avert the crisis," it said. "This is a race against time, the international community needs to respond quickly before winter when conditions deteriorate," said Oxfam's head of policy in Kabul, Matt Waldman. "The health of one million young children and half a million women is at serious risk due to malnutrition," he said in the statement. The charity also said there not enough United Nations staff in the country to coordinate the massive aid effort required. In a letter to development ministers around the world, Oxfam called for help to meet the funding shortfall and to support Afghanistan's agriculture sector and ability to cope with disasters. "We believe the current situation requires a major humanitarian response," the letter said. "If the response is slow or insufficient, there could be serious public health implications, including higher rates of mortality and morbidity, which are already some of the highest in the world," it said. Such a response could also cause displacement and civil disturbances that may undermine security, the letter said. Security is precarious in Afghanistan due to a Taliban-led insurgency that is hampering internationally funded efforts to rebuild the country after decades of war.