‘Sometimes we eat dinner, sometimes we don’t.’ Afghan food crisis poses dilemma for the West one year after Taliban takeover

Along the way, others women Join the journey in peace. It will take them three hours to reach the city center. But every day they are driven by their hunger and the need to feed their children.

Their destination is a bakery, one of many in Kabul where crowds of women begin to gather around noon, patiently waiting for customers who can give them bread.

“Sometimes we eat dinner, sometimes we don’t,” says Rahmati. “The situation has been bad for three years, but this last year was the worst. My husband tried to go to Iran for work but was deported.”

United Nations says That almost half of the country is facing chronic hunger. According to a May Report According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), 43% of Afghanistan’s population is living on less than one meal a day, with 90% of Afghans reporting food as their primary need in surveys.

Those are alarming statistics that cover the first year of Taliban rule, with the country isolated and poverty growing. As the US and its allies left the country, they imposed sanctions, froze $9 billion in central bank funds and halted foreign aid that once accounted for nearly 80% of Afghanistan’s annual budget.

Outside the Foreign Ministry, a large mural, one of the few written in English, hammers home the Taliban government’s official position: “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants positive and peaceful relations with the world.”

Yet, after a year in power, the Taliban has yet to be recognized by any country in the world, with international funding still largely frozen. One of the main problems for Western countries is the new government’s marginalization of minorities and women, including a de facto ban on secondary education for girls.

Repeated promises by the Taliban to allow girls to return to school have yet to be fulfilled. In late June, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, pushed back against international pressure, saying Afghanistan would make its own rules.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi told CNN, “The fact of the matter is that the US is trying to find a moral justification for collective punishment of the people of Afghanistan, by freezing assets and imposing sanctions on the whole of Afghanistan.” Saturday: “I don’t believe there should be any conditions on the distribution of funds that don’t belong to me, that don’t belong to the previous administration, that don’t belong to the previous government. It’s collective. It’s the money of the people of Afghanistan.

With fears of a full-blown drought last winter, the US – through the World Bank – released more than $1 billion in relief funds.

Opinion: 'Leaving my country was harder than losing my father'

“This is an example of an area where we want to continue a pragmatic dialogue with the Taliban,” a senior State Department official told CNN. “We will be talking to them about humanitarian aid access, which we believe can increase the economic stability of the country.”

But a growing body of aid workers and economists say that’s not enough, and that the continued freeze on Afghanistan’s funds is having a devastating effect.

“This is a message that no one wants to hear,” Vicky Aken, the International Rescue Committee’s country director in Afghanistan, told CNN. “These policies have put women at risk here. Women are seen starving to death in the name of feminist policies.”

Shakila Rahmati and the other women walk three hours from their home, on the outskirts of Kabul, to the city center.

The US is not close to recapitalizing the Afghan central bank, according to a senior State Department official. Although the issue has been discussed, the official said, he is still deeply concerned about assets being diverted to terrorism.

“We do not believe that organization has the security and oversight to manage assets responsibly and comprehensively. The Taliban’s harboring of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri reinforces our long-standing concerns about the diversion of funds to terrorist groups,” he said.

The Taliban Refuses to admit It was al-Zawahiri, who He was killed in a US drone strike earlier this monthwas even in the capital, further complicating any efforts to normalize relations with the Taliban.

Markets in Kabul are bustling with stalls of fresh fruits and produce. The problem, sellers say, is that most people can’t afford it.

“Flour prices have doubled. Cooking oil prices have doubled,” says a vendor.

A few yards away, a young boy collects plastic waste from a dumpster for resale.

The Taliban has a ban on girls.  Secondary education continues, so none of the courses in this non-formal school will contribute to a diploma.

“Humanitarian aid just buys time. It doesn’t develop, it doesn’t raise incomes, it doesn’t create jobs,” says Anthony Cordesman, president of strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan think tank. Washington.

Cordesman warns that Afghanistan’s overall economic decline did not begin with the Taliban’s return to power and the country’s dependence on foreign aid.

“If we can find ways to negotiate an effective aid process, where we know the money will go to the people, where it will be widely distributed, where it won’t just support the Taliban government, those are the negotiation initiatives that we should pursue. As much as possible.” Strongly. But it makes no sense to create a web of lies — the equivalent of an aid process based on a house of cards — with money that could go to many other countries that could use the aid effectively.”

As Kabul’s nights grow colder and days grow shorter, humanitarian workers fear this winter will be worse than the last.

“It is not in America’s interest to see the economy imploded,” said a senior State Department official. “We acknowledge that the humanitarian crisis is serious and dire.”

Source link

Leave a Comment