Afghanistan: Donors pledge $1.1 billion for collapsing country, 14 million people on brink of starvation

For Afghanistan, around $200 million of the new money through the United Nations has been earmarked for the UN World Food Programme, which has found that 93% of 1,600 Afghans,  that it surveyed in August and September 2021 have not been getting enough food.

Created On: Sep 14, 2021 10:54 ISTModified On: Sep 14, 2021 10:54 IST

Afghanistan crisis: Donors have pledged more than $1.1 billion for the war-torn country, where poverty and hunger have rocketed ever since the Taliban takeover. As a result, the foreign aid in the country has dried up, raising the spectre of mass migration.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while speaking at the UN Conference seeking $6.6 million in order to meet Afghanistan’s most pressing needs, said that it was still too early to say that how much has been promised in response to the appeal.

He further added that Afghans, after decades of war and suffering, have been facing the collapse of an entire country, all at once.

The Secretary-General also informed that food could run out at the end of September 2021, and the World Food Programme (WFP) has already said that 14 million people were on the brink of starvation in the war-torn country.

Many speakers also said that with an abrupt stoppage of the billions of dollars of aid due to Western antipathy and the distrust towards the Islamist Taliban, donors had a moral obligation of helping Afghanistan and the people after a 20-year engagement. Countries such as Russia and China have already offered to help.

Human Rights concerns in Afghanistan

Amid the blame on the US and its allies for leaving the Afghans amid crisis, the chief of UN Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also highlighted the western misgivings.

Bachelet accused Taliban of breaking its recent promises by once again ordering women in the country to stay at home rather than working, keeping the teenage girls out of school and persecuting the former opponents.

US and allies have greater obligation to help Afghanistan: China and Russia

Both China and Russia have maintained that the main burden of helping the war-torn country should lie with the Western Countries.

China’s ambassador to the UN said that the US and its allies have greater obligation of extending humanitarian, economic and livelihood assistance.

The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that past mistakes must not be repeated and that the people in Afghanistan must not be abandoned. Pakistan also shares close relations with Taliban and will most likely face the brunt of refugees from Afghanistan in large numbers.

Assistance to Afghanistan:

In new humanitarian assistance at the UN conference to Afghanistan, the United States has pledged $64 million, while Norway has pledged an extra $11.5 million.

Last week, China had promised $31 million worth of food and health supplies, and again on September 10, the country had announced that it will send the first batch of 3 million COVID-19 vaccines.

Pakistan has also sent food and medicine and has also called for Afghan assets that are frozen abroad to be released.

Iran also informed that it had dispatched an air cargo of aid.

Starvation in Afghanistan

Even before Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, half of the population, or around 18 million people, depended on aid. That is now set to increase because of the drought and the shortages.

Around $200 million of the new money through the United Nations has been earmarked for the UN World Food Programme, which has found that 93% of 1,600 Afghans that it surveyed in August and September have not been getting enough of food.

The Executive Director of the World Food Programme informed that 40% of the country’s wheat crop had been lost and that the price of cooking oil has doubled. People have no way of getting money.

Beasely added that 14 million people, one out of three, have been marching on the brink of starvation and they don’t know where their next meal is.

Health facilities at risk in Afghanistan

After the donors backed out from Afghanistan, the health facilities in the country have also been at the risk as per the World Health Organization.

The Head of the International Organisation for Migration, Antonio Vitorino said that the medical system in Afghanistan has been on the verge of collapse, while the Director-General of the World Health Organisation said that the gains were made towards eradicating polio and vaccinating against COVID-19 can unravel.

Background:

As Taliban took control over Afghanistan, the past scenario where the militant organization had ruled the country as per their strict interpretation of Islamic law from 1996 to 2001, has again become the issue of international concern.

At the time, Taliban was toppled in an invasion led by the US which had accused them of sheltering the militants who were behind the attacks of 9/11 in the US.

However, Taliban again swept back to power after the US-led NATO troops withdrew from the country after the period of 20 years.

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