by Aamer Madani | The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The United States on Tuesday announced $308 million in additional humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, offering new aid to the country as it approaches a humanitarian crisis since its takeover by the Taliban nearly five months ago.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horn said in a statement that the new aid from the US Agency for International Development would flow through independent humanitarian organizations and would be used for shelter, health care, winter aid, emergency food aid, water, To provide cleanliness. and sanitation services.
The country’s long troubled economy has been in a tailspin since the takeover of the Taliban. About 80% of the budget of the previous government of Afghanistan came from the international community. That money, now cut, financed hospitals, schools, factories and government ministries. The lack of health care, drought and malnutrition, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, has added to the desperation for such basic necessities.
The International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid organisation, said community health workers had observed a sharp increase in the number of children with severe acute malnutrition in Khost and Herat provinces. The group also reported that food prices in Afghanistan have increased by an estimated 10% to 20% over the past five years.
“The reason for today’s humanitarian disaster is clear: the economic tournament that applies to Afghanistan,” said IRC President and CEO, David Miliband.
“The time for a change in approach has passed.
USAID called on the Taliban to allow “all aid workers, especially women … to work freely and safely” as humanitarian groups seek to help those who are suffering.
“The United States continues to urge the Taliban to allow continued humanitarian access, safe conditions for humanitarian people, free provision of aid to all vulnerable people, and freedom of movement for aid workers of all genders,” the agency said in a statement. Is.”
Separately, the United Nations 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan, unveiled on Tuesday, found the country needed $4.4 billion in funding, the largest humanitarian appeal ever for a country.
Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said: “Events in Afghanistan over the past year have unfolded at a rapid pace and with dire consequences for the Afghan people.” “The world is shocked and looking for the right way to react. Meanwhile, an all-out humanitarian catastrophe ensues. ,
The new Biden administration commitment brings US humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to more than $780 million since the chaotic end of the 20-year-old war in August. The United Nations says that 22% of Afghanistan’s 38 million people are living near famine and another 36% face acute food insecurity.
In addition, the White House pledged that it would send 1 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to Afghanistan through COVAX, an initiative by the World Health Organization to improve access to vaccines. With the new influx of doses, the US would have sent 4.3 million doses to Afghanistan, which has struggled to cope with the unrelenting pandemic.
International funding to Afghanistan was suspended after the Taliban took control of the country in mid-August and the country’s billions of dollars of assets abroad, mostly in the United States, were frozen.
The decision by the US and the international community not to recognize the Taliban government, which governed from 1996 to 2001 with a strict interpretation of Islamic law, has raised a question for Western powers as to how to provide adequate aid without being given. Legitimacy of the Taliban They hope that by giving money directly to independent aid organizations they will be able to keep it out of the hands of the Taliban.
The lack of funds has exacerbated poverty, and aid groups have warned of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe. State employees, from doctors to teachers and administrative civil servants, have not been paid for months. Meanwhile, banks have restricted how much money account holders can withdraw.
The Taliban have called on the international community to release funds and help avert a humanitarian disaster.
Sen. Chris Murphy, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counter Terrorism, said it is in the interest of the US and allies to ease the suffering of Afghans.
Murphy, D-Conn, said, “The United States has a moral obligation to ensure that national security is imperative to prevent avoidable suffering and to avoid a humanitarian disaster.”