The future appears uncertain for Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban as US-led forces withdrew from the country after 20 years of occupation. As other nations continue to evacuate their citizens, the Central Asian country has been struck by political and humanitarian crises.
US Pledges $64 Million in Humanitarian Aid for Afghanistan
© REUTERS / West Asia News AgencyTaliban soldiers stand in front of a sign at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 9, 2021
© REUTERS / West Asia News Agency
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned late last month that the global community "cannot forget those who have been left behind" in Afghanistan following the Taliban's* takeover. The UN official emphasized that a "robust and urgent" response would be necessary to address the needs of Afghan refugees and residents.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on Monday that it intends to extend nearly $64 million in humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan via a number of independent organizations, such as UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Funds will come from both the USAID, as well as the US State Department.
The United States remains firmly committed to continue our robust humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan. We are proud to announce an additional $64 million in humanitarian assistance. https://t.co/RHpaENdjgP— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) September 13, 2021
The independent agency highlighted the US is presently the "largest humanitarian donor in Afghanistan," with nearly $330 million contributed to such efforts this year.
The USAID has also mobilized a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) that is based outside of Afghanistan, and will be tasked with leading Washington's humanitarian response for Afghans facing issues related to conflict, recurring natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the like.
"We will continue to press for the Taliban to respect the rights and freedoms of women and girls, and are committed to preserving the gains Afghans, especially women, have made in the past 20 years," said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a Monday statement on the matter.
Vulnerable groups, including women, children, members of the LGBTQI+ community and disabled individuals will also receive support from the US and the international community, according to Blinken.
The US pledge to donate almost $64 million in additional aid to Afghanistan comes nearly two weeks after the UN called on member-nations to assist with food stocks that could run out by the end of September.
"It is extremely important that we prevent Afghanistan from descending into a further humanitarian catastrophe by taking the necessary steps to provide essential items which this country needs right now," said Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan. "And that is to support food, health and protection services, and non-food items, to those who are in extreme need."
On Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted that in addition to food stocks running low, the World World Food Programme (WFP) has communicated that some 14 million individuals are facing starvation.
David Beasley, executive director of the WFP, highlighted that Afghanistan's issues have been compounded due to the loss of 40% of its wheat crop, and two-fold inflation of cooking oil prices.