Afghanistan crisis, let’s invest in humanity | By Shamsa Ishfaq

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Afghanistan crisis, let’s invest in humanity

ON 22 June 2022, Afghanistan was hit by a devastating earthquake which killed at least 1,000 people and injured hundreds, according to Afghan official sources.

While the tragic devastation is indeed sad; the deepening challenge of climate change has evidently worsened the multiple crises facing Afghanistan.

Today, Afghanistan is among the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world. As per UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), about 29521 people were affected by natural disasters throughout Afghanistan in the first three months of year 2022.

During the period, Afghanistan’s six provinces experienced some kind of natural disaster. Around 23 million people equal to about 55 percent of the population are at the verge of extreme hunger and nearly nine million of them are at the risk of famine.

Not only this, it is suffering its second drought in four years, along with an economic meltdown that is compounding the humanitarian situation in the country.

Over three decades of conflict, coupled with environmental degradation, sensitivity to changing weather patterns, lack of infrastructure and insufficient investment in disaster risk reduction strategies have made aggravated vulnerability of the Afghan people to cope with the sudden shock of natural disasters.

It is worrisome that these near-term climate impacts, if left unaddressed, will only worsen the ongoing socioeconomic catastrophe, conflict and violence.

But unfortunately, the focus of the international community and even regional states has been on the status of the Taliban regime and her failure to ensure inclusivity and human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls.

Contrary to the developed West, the economy-stricken Pakistan has displayed an exemplary performance in mitigating both natural and humanitarian crisis of Afghanistan.

Reportedly, Pakistan has sent first relief aid carrying tents, Tarpaulin, blankets and lifesaving drugs for earthquake affectees in Afghanistan.

Prior to this, Pakistan has announced a humanitarian assistance package of five billion rupees for Afghan people.

In the last 10 months, Pakistan has sent 14945 Tons of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan via 694 trucks and 4-C130 planes under the arrangements of Pak-Afghan Cooperation Forum (PACF).

Establishment of free eye camps in Kabul and Khost, free treatment of Afghan children affected with Congenital Heart Defects (CHD), upgrading and funding for state-of-the-art hospitals in Logar, Jalalabad and Kabul are an added contribution.

Furthermore, Pakistan is also assisting Afghanistan in capacity building in the fields of agriculture, banking, railways, military and diplomacy.

To top it, Pakistan’s generous hosting of about three million Afghan refugees for last four decades, despite its own economic glitches, is an unparalleled contribution.

Not only this, Pakistan remained at the forefront to sensitize the world about Afghanistan’s worsening humanitarian situation and need to address the issue collectively.

In doing so, Pakistan has put aside its differences and graciously allowed India to send wheat to crisis-stricken Afghans via Pakistan.

Similarly, Islamabad has offered air and land routes to international donors for transporting humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

Pakistan is doing its bit for its brotherly country; however, it cannot alone address the grave humanitarian issue of its neighbour.

It is time for the international community to come forward and play its role to help the Afghan masses who have been victim of decades of war followed by humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan. It’s time to invest in humanity and save Afghanistan.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.

 

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