Since the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, Afghanistan has been facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. While the regime has been in the headlines for suppressing women’s rights, a matter that needs equal attention is the country’s severe hunger crisis.
According to the World Food Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, a record-high number of people in Afghanistan are either already starving or on the verge of starvation. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification 2022 paints a more gloomy picture. Almost 20 million people of Afghanistan-half the country’s population-is either on level 3 (crises) or level 4 (emergency) levels of food insecurity. It is even more alarming to note that around one million children under the age of 5 suffer from prolonged acute malnutrition.
A country that has witnessed five decades of war is now on the brink of collapse. What exactly has led Afghanistan to this unprecedented catastrophe? And why is the world silent?
Beneath the surface of what seems to be a food crisis is a deeply entrenched economic crisis. Human Rights Watch Asia Advocacy Director John Sifton underlined the country’s financial collapse. Over the last two years, prices of the most basic food items such as rice and wheat have gone up by more than fifty per cent. The U.S sanction on the Taliban controlled Afghan Central Bank have made things worse by freezing Afghanistan’s foreign reserves and disrupting the country’ heavily import-dependent economy. Fearing repercussions of bypassing the U.S’ sanction, many international donors have stepped back from helping the Afghans with financial assistance. This implies that even if there are food and groceries in the market, there is no money available to the people. The economic crisis has further exacerbated due to dwindling jobs and a very high rate of unemployment.
Afghanistan’s currency has depreciated twenty five per cent in comparison to the U.S dollar. Around 97 per cent of the Afghans fall below the poverty line. This is extremely worrisome, especially when the worst victims are women and children. Inside the Indira Gandhi Hospital at Kabul, wards overflow with emaciated and sick children with bloated limbs and stomach. Doctors there feel helpless as they are losing one to two children every day due to acute malnutrition. It is utterly heartbreaking that an entire generation of children is traumatized by war, hunger and poverty. What is even more devastating is the coping mechanism the parents are resorting to escape starvation. Some sell their girls. Some sedate their children with tranquilizers and medicines to prevent them from crying for food at night.
While all the Western countries including the U.S.A and European Union have unequivocally condemned the Taliban, China and Russia have taken a different approach. China has, in fact, announced that it looks forward to having a partnership with the Taliban.
The European Union has allocated around 174 million Euros in humanitarian support to various agencies operating in Afghanistan in 2022. In the aftermath of the 2022 earthquake in Eastern Afghanistan, the European Union allocated 1 million Euros to humanitarian partners to provide urgent relief and assistance to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable families.
Despite its strict economic measures against the Taliban regime, the U.S has contributed positively towards the ongoing humanitarian measures in Afghanistan. The U.S has supported a funding amount of one billion dollars since 2021 to Afghanistan in sectors such as food, education and healthcare.
India, on the other hand has emphasized on the cultural ties it shares with Afghanistan. It assisted the war-torn country by sending essential items such as family ridge tents, sleeping bags, blankets and mats after the devastating earthquake in Eastern Afghanistan.
Even though any positive, affirmative action is more than welcome at the moment, the larger picture within which Afghanistan’s issues lie is still vague and uncertain. Despite international assistance pouring in post relaxation of some of the U.S sanctions, the country is still facing a formidable challenge. Large parts of the country have been affected by natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods and drought. Poverty and malnourishment loom large over the lives of the people.
The only way to make sure that the international help benefits the population is to establish a relationship of cooperation with the Taliban regime. Ultimately, behind all the political rhetoric of who is right and who is wrong, it is the common people that suffer. Isolating the Taliban government will do further damage to the country and its population. Without the help and participation of the Taliban regime, it is impossible to penetrate into the country’s mass. Under such circumstances, negotiating rather than isolating should be the primary focus.
History has shown us, time and again, what isolating the governments of nations can do to its people. When the world imposed sanctions on North-Korea following its trampling of human rights, it not only cut-off the regime, but also the country’s population. People cannot reach for help, neither within the country, nor outside it. Taking away from people the right to express their grievances, denying them the right to having their grievances addressed is the most fundamental manifestation of dehumanization. Today, no one knows what has happened to those people. We can only hope that they are safe. The International community must not make the same mistake with Afghanistan. It must not leave its people without hope and in bereavement.
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3 months ago by [email protected]
This story is so well articulated full of hope in the dark times... Thank you for this.
3 months, 1 week ago by [email protected]
Such a impressive article and very informative content
3 months, 1 week ago by ishmeetsaluja321
Such a wonderful article!!
3 months, 1 week ago by gauravsinghkumar117
Awesome content very knowledgeable. Nice content keep it up the great work.
3 months, 1 week ago by deepshikhakar27
Such a wonderful article. You have expressed the entire scenario in such a lucid manner. Excellent and interesting!
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