Rural Afghanistan under humanitarian crisis | By Shazia Anwer Cheema 


Rural Afghanistan under humanitarian crisis

NEWS is a ruthless business. We follow news when it is trending then we forget and find some new trends.

Afghanistan had been in the headlines and now we are forgetting what is going on inside Afghanistan. Any new bomb blast or suicide bombing gets our attention and that is what we mostly are following.

Yes, we are also following an international conference being held to review inclusive government status in Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, we are not following the Afghan Winter that has already engulfed rural areas under Siberian winds, and the temperature in most of the parts has dropped to minus Celsius.

My recent conversation with a journalist who recently came back from Afghanistan made me disturbed because he confirmed that over 80 percent of the Afghan population that lives in rural areas is facing severe energy crisis to keep their muddy homes warmer, resulting in the death of infants there.

People do not have money to buy energy resources because cash in the Afghan economy has disappeared following the Taliban takeover of Kabul because major donors have stopped funding the Afghan government and we must remember that donors used to cater for roughly 70% of Afghanistan’s budget.

The sudden withdrawal of foreign assistance has created a huge gap, halting businesses and construction work.

The banks are not operating normally and UN organizations are fearing that over 90% of the Afghan population could fall below the poverty line next year.
Reportedly, the Afghan economy has already contracted by 30%.

All this is a recipe for avoidable disaster but who will come forward and avoid this disaster is the question in my mind.

I cannot say that the world is not worried about Afghan people if I follow news regarding pledges made to save the Afghan population.

G20 Special Video Conference ended with the EU announcement of one billion USD support to Afghanistan then Afghanistan Moscow Conference was held and raised the issue of humanitarian crisis.

The UN also has pledged more than $1.2 billion but we note that the pledges have not been converted into disbursements yet.

On 26 October, the “Afghanistan Neighbouring Countries Conference” in Tehran also urged help to the Afghan people.

Everybody is talking about Afghan people but talks are neither hot blankets nor fuel canisters that are needed by Afghan children to survive extreme winter. Ruthless reality is that bread is needed by Afghans not promises.

I followed all recent conferences on Afghanistan and everybody from Brussels to Tehran talked about that Afghanistan is experiencing a severe economic crisis for reasons, both internal and external, and there has been a severe drought in the country. The situation has been compounded by a high inflation rate.

We all know the winter is a complicating factor and good intentions must be translated into practical actions to help the Afghans in dire need before more infant deaths are reported from rural areas.

In such a humanitarian crisis that Afghanistan is facing, collective efforts can halt economic meltdown and neighbouring countries must come forward to support the Afghan population.

Our shared objective of a peaceful, united, and prosperous Afghanistan will only materialize when we join hands and assist Afghanistan.

I believe neighbours should do mutual coordination on facilitation of humanitarian assistance to reach a maximum number of Afghans; ensure more meaningful economic activity, individually and collectively, to aid the development process and help build a sustainable Afghan economy.

—The writer is an analyst writing for national and international media outlets.

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