Monday December 06, 2021

Harrowing scenes

November 24, 2021

The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse day by day as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has once again warned. In addition to the Afghan Taliban’s violations of human rights and lack of economic and financial planning, economic sanctions are causing massive suffering in the country. The country that has experienced crisis after crisis since 1978 is now facing its worst situation in decades; the ICRC has described it as ‘infuriating’. The Photographs and videos from Afghanistan show bone-thin children begging for food in the streets – destitute and hungry. The agony the citizens of Afghanistan are going through appears to be more harrowing than infuriating. There are parents who cannot feed their children and they have nowhere to turn to, as the Taliban government itself is unable to muster any support from the world.

This suffering is the result of a tragedy that both internal and external forces have perpetuated in Afghanistan for a long time. The population of the country is nearly 40 million and over half of them are facing acute food shortages. Then there is the challenge of the winter months which are harsh and harmful for those lacking in clothing, food, heating, nutrition, and shelter. If 50 percent of a country’s population faces a tragedy of such enormous proportions, the world needs to respond, and do it quickly before it is too late. The combined effects of drought and economic crisis are taking their toll, and after the Taliban takeover in August, this toll has been mounting rapidly. The financial crunch that the country is going through is not likely to alleviate unless Washington unfreezes about ten billion dollars of assets held in its reserve for Kabul. When Washington froze those assets, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund also halted Afghanistan’s access to funding.

This is nothing short of severe punishment to the people and Afghanistan, and not to the Afghan Taliban. Those who are in power in Kabul are equally to blame – if not more – as they have been following their own agenda irrespective of any national and international reactions to their abrupt assumption of power. Millions of people are now facing freezing cold across Afghanistan and they do not have the bare essentials to survive. It is highly irresponsible and unethical of the world community to keep turning its back to a country that is on the verge of collapse as a nation, teetering under a catastrophe that is haunting common citizens of Afghanistan. The Taliban and the world must bring the country back from the precipice it is close to. The international community must lift sanctions on banking services to forestall the Afghan economy from going into free-fall. There is a need to immediately restore bilateral and multilateral aid by putting aside ideological differences.