Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday announced $43 million in humanitarian aid to people in Afghanistan. The move comes after the barbaric rule of the Taliban military regime combined with severe drought and extreme temperatures caused hundreds of thousands of Afghan citizens to flee their homes. As many as 800,000 Afghans are thought to be displaced within Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands more have fled to Pakistan, only to find death and starvation in refugee camps. In his announcement, Powell stated explicity that the aid would be dispensed through the United Nations and NGOs, not through the Taliban.
Women have suffered disproportionately under the military rule of the Taliban. The Taliban has enforced a wide range of restrictive decrees against women, including banning them from school (in or out of the home) and forbidding them from leaving their homes without a close male relative. A recent survey by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) shows that 90% of Afghan women and men support the rights of women currently restricted by the Taliban regime.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has been urging the increase of humanitarian assistance to Afghans, especially women and children, who are in peril for their lives. At the urging of the Feminist Majority, 13 U.S. Senators, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), recently sent a letter to Secretary of State Powell urging the provision of emergency assistance to help both internally displaced Afghans and Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.
The Feminist Majority is also working to develop legislation that would provide more funding for healh, education, and income generation for programs to help women and girls in Afghanistan and living as refugees in Pakistan. Caring individuals have already sent thousands of letters and e-mails through FMF’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and Feminist.org (Send an E-Mail Now).