Afghanistan need international help | By Asad Ali

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Afghanistan need international help


MONTHS after fall of Kabul, humanitarian crisis has engulfed Afghanistan. Millions of people are facing starvation, health-care system is collapsing and wages are plummeting.

The humanitarian emergency in Afghanistan has become even more dire since the collapse of previous Western-backed Ghani government.

As per World Food Program, about 23 million Afghan population is acutely food insecure. Of these, almost 09 million face emergency levels of food insecurity. Only 5% people have enough to eat.

The looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan will have severe repercussions for the entire international community. The US and Western abandonment of Afghanistan could be disastrous for global peace.

The fall of Kabul has taught us various lessons politically, economically and militarily. The most important one is that the use of force is not a solution of any conflict. Dialogue is the best possible option to solve an issue either military or a political one.

Violence, displacement, drought and Covid-19 pandemic hit Afghani population with accelerated force in recent months, and humanitarian crisis gathered pace as international community continue to abandon Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been sensitizing international community regarding the possible spill-over of Afghan humanitarian conflict. The government of Pakistan has been extending aid to Afghanistan in humanitarian domain to help vulnerable Afghans, which is now being acknowledged globally.

Despite having limited economic options, Pakistan has sent humanitarian consignments to Kabul, viewing harsh winter conditions. PM Imran Khan has also appealed to international community to come forward and support Afghanistan politically and economically.

Likewise, the UN Security Council also adopted a resolution while calling for enhanced humanitarian assistance.

Making that happen requires an urgent increase in donor funding, easing of sanctions specially on Afghan banking system, regional cooperation on air bridges for aid delivery and – perhaps most difficult – persistent attention from Western governments that may prefer to move on from defeat in Afghanistan.

To prevent humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan that reverberates throughout South and Central Asia donors will need to set aside their concerns about Taliban, at least for narrow purpose of ensuring that aid reaches Afghan population and refugees living nearby.

As per International Crisis Group’s report, thousands of civilians were killed and injured in 2021 and some 560,000 people were displaced, including nearly 120,000 fleeing to Kabul as they sought refuge from Taliban advances. The overall number are still increasing and many of them are still unaccounted for.

The count of displaced people in Afghanistan over the last few months was twice the monthly average in the last five years, and these figures are likely to grow as the people seem unhappy with the orthodox tendencies of Afghan Taliban despite promising provision of basic and fundamental rights to masses including women.

As per recent assessment of UN agencies, Afghanistan’s health sector has collapsed as hospitals are overflowing, medical supplies are dwindling and critical infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed. Similarly, basic food supplies in different cities across the country are running short.

Pressures are acute in capital Kabul, where job losses and spiraling inflation have made it even more challenging for people to purchase food and other staples. The largest employer in country, Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, has dissolved.

The freezing of Afghan assets abroad and US sanctions on banking system created more problems for the Afghan administration.

In the larger public interest, the US must revisit its approach towards Afghanistan and must immediately release humanitarian and also lift sanction specially imposed on banking sector.

Pakistan, being an immediate neighbour of Afghanistan, is going all out to facilitate the Taliban government and Afghan people as well.

But, it cannot do anything alone. It must have to get more political and financial support from international community. The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan can only be prevented through mutual consensus and support. Pakistan is also facing economic slowdown due to the pandemic.

However, it is still helping Afghans. Now, international organizations, governments and other charitable institutes must extend their support to Afghanistan.

The acknowledgment of Pakistani humanitarian efforts is a step in the right direction. But, the US shouldn’t scapegoat Pakistan over its failure in Afghanistan. NATO and other international forces lost in Afghanistan due to their own failed policies.

Blaming Pakistan is not a right thing to do as it is hurting Islamabad’s international image. This must be stopped here and the US/other Western states must come forward openly and endorse Islamabad’s stance regarding Afghanistan.

The presence of three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan sets best humanitarian example. The world must acknowledge that and help Pakistan financially.

Afghanistan is facing its most complex humanitarian crisis yet, resulting from pouring impacts of decades of conflicts and endemic poverty, and in more recent years, climate change, Covid-19 pandemic, and chronic foreign aid dependency.

Both the Taliban and the international community need to act quickly to ameliorate the humanitarian emergency in Afghanistan.

At the moment the Taliban should also demonstrate some flexibility regarding the provision of basic and fundamental rights of the people. They must follow through on their promises of unrestricted access for humanitarian workers.

The US and EU should also make good on their promises of continuing to stand with Afghan people by convening donors’ conference to fill humanitarian assistance funding gaps identified by the UN and other stakeholder states.

Moreover, mechanisms for sanctions waivers, licences or other forms of relief must be established as a matter of urgency. The international community should facilitate the establishment of humanitarian air bridges and work to enable resumption of civilian air travel as soon as possible.

—The Islamabad-based writer is expert of South Asian Politics.

 

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