The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is worsening with the advent of winter. Pakistan has announced Rs5 billion in medical, food and other humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, while also allowing a one-time exemption for transporting food aid from India to the neighbouring country.
Pakistan and China are two of the leading donors of the war-ravaged country. China has dispatched a special freight train carrying more than 1,000 tonnes of aid material which Afghans urgently need through the winter. This is the fourth such train and China has already dispatched food aid and coronavirus vaccine to address the need of the Afghan people.
The United Nations has pushed action to crop up Afghan banks, warning that the cash liquidity crunch and inability to repay loans, could cause the financial situation to collapse within months. The economic cost and subsequent negative social impact of such a collapse would be colossal. The abrupt withdrawal of foreign development after the Taliban seized power sent the economy into freefall, putting a severe strain on the banking system.
Afghanistan’s banking system was already vulnerable but now development aid has dried up and billions of dollars in Afghan assets have been frozen abroad. The UN and aid groups are struggling to get cash in the country and even may basic salaries. The United States has refused to release Afghan frozen assets, calling on the Taliban to gain legitimacy first.
Afghans face a harsh winter and the country is undergoing a severe economic situation. The international community should strengthen solidarity and cooperation to improve their conditions. The imposition of unilateral sanctions is a collective punishment for the whole of Afghanistan which can exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.
The US has agreed to resume talks with the Taliban next week in Doha where the humanitarian crisis will be discussed. The US had laid out conditions to receive financial and diplomatic support including fighting terrorism, inclusive government, respecting rights of minorities, women and girls, and providing equal access to education and employment. The Taliban have not made any progress in this regard.
Afghanistan’s aid-dependent economy has effectively collapsed and Taliban have warned the crisis could prompt mass migration. It has also been learned that out of 28,000 Afghans who applied for admission to the US, only about 100 have been approved. The global community certainly has not done enough and is certainly abandoning the Afghan people, whose miseries seem to have no end.