In his strong address before a joint-session of Congress, President Bush condemned the Taliban regime. In doing so, Bush cited the plight of Afghan women, the rampant starvation Afghan people are facing, and the important U.S. role as the largest source of humanitarian aid to people in the country.
Meanwhile, the Feminist Majority Foundation has launched an effort to increase humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees, who are mostly women and children. In 2000, over 3.5 million Afghan refugees already were living in Pakistan and another 1.5 million in Iran and other countries. Six hundred thousand more Afghans reportedly had crossed the Pakistan border in the past year to escape the worst drought in 30 years, continuous fighting, and the brutalities of the Taliban regime. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., tens of thousands of more refugees crossed the borders of neighboring countries before the borders were sealed over the weekend. Experts expected hundreds of thousands more refugees to flee Afghanistan if the borders are relaxed.
In Pakistan, half of Afghan refugees live in refugee camps and almost another half, mostly ethnic minorities, have migrated to the cities. The Feminist Majority Foundation continues to press for a dramatic increase in food, shelter, health care, sanitation and other assistance to Afghan refugees who have migrated to the cities of Pakistan as well as those who live in the refugee camps. The conditions among refugees are dire, with little food, with many having no more than plastic sheets for shelter, and with virtually no sanitation. These conditions have resulted in widespread disease, death, and political instability. At this time, for the most part, the United Nations has provided only very limited assistance to refugees who live in camps and no assistance to refugees outside of the camps who are just as desperate.