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Afghanistan is currently experiencing a humanitarian disaster. Millions are facing hunger and disease.
After 20 years and trillions of dollars spent, in 2021, the U.S. withdrew support from the Afghan government created by America. The end result was that the Afghan government totally and completely fell apart. When the Taliban swept into power back in August 2021, world governments cut off Afghanistan’s access to international funding. The U.S. government, along with the Federal Reserve and global allied partners also froze the Afghan central bank’s roughly $10 billion in assets held abroad in a bid to stop the Taliban from accessing that money. This has led to the Afghan economy's collapse.
U.N. officials said the situation is intensifying at an unprecedented rate. Over 22 million people, more than half the country’s population, are facing crisis-levels of hunger, the majority of them unable to guarantee when their next meal is going to be, according to the U.N. World Food Program. This marks a dramatic increase since September, when more than 14 million people were at risk of going hungry. The organization also estimated that in December, 95 percent of the population had insufficient food consumption, adopting measures to cope with their situation by skipping a meal, for example. Since October 2020, when drought struck Afghanistan, the situation has continued to get worse. (Washington Post, 1-24-22)
THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO GIVE BILLIONS
OF AFGHANISTAN'S MONEY TO 9/11 VICTIMS
One of the most insane plans announced by Team Biden recently is to permanently seize Afghanistans assets and use $3.5 billion of it on 9/11 victims. "Critics were quick to denounce the move as cruel, given that the Afghan people themselves had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks that took place over two decades ago—and that those living in one of the poorest nations in the world should not be punished for the criminal acts of a small group of individuals, most of them from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. With the nation on the verge of collapse, economists have warned permanent seizure of these funds that otherwise could stabilize the Afghan central bank would further spell disaster for the nation's economy (Common Dreams, 2-11-22).
Another point is that the other $3.5 billion may be tied up in legal bureaucracy as a result of this, taking too long to get to the Afghan people. Or maybe not even getting to them at all. The Afghan people are facing starvation and need access to their own money now.
COVID CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN
The current crisis in Afghanistan is being exacerbated by Covid. A Covid surge is battering Afghanistan's crumbling health care system. Between January 30 and February 5, nearly half of the total samples tested in Afghanistan were positive for COVID-19. The trouble is that only five hospitals in Afghanistan still offer COVID-19 treatment, with 33 others having been forced to close in recent months for lack of doctors, medicines and even heating. Currently, barely 27 percent of Afghanistan’s 38 million people have been vaccinated, most of them with the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine (Aljazeera, 2-10-22).
THE AFGHAN PEOPLE NOW FACE MASS STARVATION
The combined shocks of having their assets frozen along with drought, conflict and COVID-19 have left more than half the population of Afghanistan facing a record level of acute hunger, according to a new UN assessment published on October 25th, 2021.
The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP), revealed that the lives, livelihoods and access to food for 22.8 million people will be severely impacted.
According to the United Nations, at least $660 million is needed to help Afghanistan through it's current economic crisis. (United Nations, 10-21-21). We would add that much more is probably needed than that. This is probably the minimum required.
The United States has announced $144 million in humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan (USAID). However, there are stipulations attached to this offer that put the feasibility of the aid in question.
THE CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN IS FAR FROM OVER
It may be tempting for some in America to say, "This is now Afghanistan's problem. We have pulled out." However, it's very important to understand that the Afghan crisis for America is far from over. America is still interfering in the lives of the people of Afghanistan, since they have seized $10 billion of their money.
And according to Obaidullah Baheer, a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan who writes for the Washington Post, "the Biden administration must release the lion’s share of almost $10 billion it has frozen of Afghanistan’s federal reserves, vital to restart the economy. It is counterintuitive to expect sanctions to incentivize autocratic states to change their behavior." He goes on to say that sanctions will cause more problems than they will solve, leading to further collapse and chaos.
AFGHANISTAN'S CRISIS COULD SPILL INTO PAKISTAN
It is also important for America to understand that what happens in Afghanistan does not stay in Afghanistan. It also affects Pakistan, a nuclear state. Pakistan and Afghanistan are more connected than westerners realize. The Durand Line, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is a creation of western imperialism, not of the people who actually live there. In Afghanistan and Pakistan there are Pashtun populations on both sides of the border.
The extreme religious movements in Pakistan and Afghanistan are very tightly connected. So religious movements in Afghanistan influence Pakistan and vice versa.
So what is to come? What's to come if things don't change is huge political turmoil in Afghanistan leading to more death and more chaos, which is all going to spill over into Pakistan, virtually 100% and fuel more religious extremism in Pakistan against a nuclear state. Why is this going to happen? Because the Taliban government that came to power in Kabul is a very weak government as a coalition of militias and it is very unclear that this government has the power to control the whole country and to enforce order. The only hope they would have of doing that is to have the financial resources to do so.
WHAT TO DO?
ACTION IS REQUIRED TO PREVENT MASS DEATH
AID CANNOT WAIT
So what to do? The first thing that America needs to do is to stop intervening in Afghanistan and let the Afghan people have their money.
We understand this is a highly controversial issue because of the Taliban. There's a controversy about whether the Taliban government does or does not represent the Afghan people. But even with that fact considered, at least a large part of the $10 billion, needs to be released.
Specifically, around $2 billion of that needs to be released soon. The alternative is chaos and death leading to more religious extremism and war—not less.
It is our hope this can be negotiated in a manner that respects human rights. But the bottom line is that this is needed to avoid future violence.
Afghanistan IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis: 23 Million Face Starvation (Issued in October 2021)
Sign-On Letter: Preventing Famine and Rescinding Executive Order on Afghanistan’s frozen funds (Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, 3-1-22)
UNITED NATIONS CALLS FOR AID TO AFGHANISTAN
$667 million funding call to help Afghans through economic crisis (United Nations, 10-21-21)
U.S. PLEDGES AID TO AFGHANISTAN
The United States Announces More Than $144 Million in Additional Humanitarian Assistance for Afghanistan (USAID, 10-28-21)
Photos: COVID surge batters Afghanistan’s crumbling healthcare (Aljazeera, 2-10-22)
BIDEN'S PLANS TO GIVE BILLIONS OF AFGHANISTAN'S ASSETS TO 9/11 VICTIMS
Biden’s Afghanistan Counsel Left the White House in January. Now He’s Poised to Reap Financial Windfall From Billions in Seized Afghan Assets. (The Intercept, 2-15-22)
'Death Sentence for Untold Numbers of Civilians': Biden to Permanently Seize Afghan Assets (Common Dreams, 2-11-22)
Biden proposes splitting billions in Afghanistan funds between 9/11 victims and humanitarian aid (Washington Post, 2-11-22)
Unfreeze Afghanistan About Unfreeze Afghanistan
OTHER NEWS STORIES
Afghanistan faces widespread hunger amid worsening humanitarian crisis (The Washington Post, 1-24-22)
Over 22 million people, more than half the country’s population, are facing crisis-levels of hunger, the majority of them unable to guarantee when their next meal is going to be, according to the U.N. World Food Program.
What my 20 years in Afghanistan taught me about the Taliban – and how the west consistently underestimates them (The Conversation, 11-30-21)
The author of this article, Sippi Azarbaijani Moghaddam, writes about her 20 years spent in Afghanistan.
She writes on how the West repeatedly fails to understand the Afghan people.
Afghanistan on ‘countdown to catastrophe’ without urgent humanitarian relief (UN News, 10-25-21)
How turmoil in Afghanistan has impacted agriculture — a vital part of its livelihood (NPR, 10-25-21)
Opinion: Without the U.S. releasing billions in assets, Afghans will continue to sink into desperation (The Washington Post, 11-2-21)
Afghanistan is facing the ‘worst humanitarian disaster we’ve ever seen,’ the UN says (CNBC, 11-12-21)