Humanitarian Aid

Humanitarian Aid without Taliban Controls

A humanitarian crisis is now affecting millions of people in Afghanistan. The economy is on the brink of collapse. Millions of people, especially women, have lost their jobs and incomes. Afghans cannot get their own money out of Afghan banks. Extreme droughts and the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented poverty levels to the country before the Taliban takeover in 2021, and its brutal regime has worsened the situation. 

Acute malnutrition is spiking and nearly 90% of households are experiencing malnutrition or hunger. The increase in poverty has put women and girls even more at risk for violence, including child forced marriage, domestic abuse, and human trafficking. Media report that some Afghans sell their body parts, especially kidneys, and at times sell their young girls so that desperate families can feed the rest of their children. 

Nearly all donor countries around the world agree that under these horrid circumstances, humanitarian aid is needed, but sanctions against the Taliban should continue. However, humanitarian aid must also be provided in a way that prevents the Taliban from controlling the funding and distribution. 

The solution is limited engagement by the donor countries only for humanitarian purposes to meet the Afghan people’s urgent needs. Humanitarian aid can and should be provided through the United Nations, as well as Afghan and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). All Afghans should have access to distribution of food and other assistance, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion. 

Women must be involved in the distribution of aid, and aid groups should particularly seek out female heads of households, many of whom are widows due to more than four decades of war. Single and widowed women are especially vulnerable because Taliban rules say no women may leave their homes “unless necessary and only with a male escort,” making a paid job for single women nearly impossible. 

Humanitarian aid must continue and increase.

In January 2022, the UN and partner countries launched an appeal for more than $4.4 billion in funding for Afghanistan to help rebuild basic services. However, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that donors contributed only $2.44 billion to Afghanistan humanitarian assistance programs in March 2022, a steep decline. Unfortunately, donor interest in expanding humanitarian aid to Afghanistan appears to be dwindling.

Funding is needed for emergency cash relief, food, education, shelter, trauma care and essential health services, water, sanitation, protection against gender-based violence, increased development, and reintegration assistance to internally displaced and returnee populations, as well as Afghan refugee populations in neighboring countries and throughout the world.

Aid funding must help people help themselves.

Many Afghans want to have economic independence. Afghan women’s rights leaders have strongly encouraged funding for women to re-start and establish small businesses. Micro-loans and education in specialties like technology, finance, and other areas are some ways for women to get capital that will be needed beyond humanitarian aid.