KABUL, Afghanistan. March 23rd, 2022. By refusing to recognize the victors over the occupation of Afghanistan as the legitimate government, the United States and other Western governments’ sanctions on the Taliban leadership is exacerbating an economic collapse that has placed half of the country’s 39 million people at risk of starvation.
Recognizing the danger, a recent UN Security Council vote decided on sending a mission to coordinate humanitarian assistance without ever using the T-word.
“This new mandate for UNAMA [the UN mission to Afghanistan] is crucial not only to respond to the immediate humanitarian and economic crisis, but also to reach our overarching goal of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Norwegian UN Ambassador Mona Juul, whose country drafted the resolution, told the AFP news agency after the vote on Thursday.
The decision came two weeks after the World Bank got its hands on $1 billion of the $7 billion Afghanistan Trust Fund held in the U.S. The Biden Administration froze those assets after the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 16th, 2021.
UNICEF-Afghanistan stated that easily more than a million children could die before this economic crisis resolves itself, and that the country’s medical care and economy overall are in dire need of international financial aid.
“The needs are enormous–in support of that UNICEF Afghanistan launched the largest single country appeal ever in UNICEF’s 75 year history, for two billion dollars to support the children and families of Afghanistan. At the moment it is only 15 percent funded, so we are urgently asking our donors for more funding,” said communications chief for UNICEF, Sam Mort.
During the August and September withdrawal of American forces and embassy staff, multiple senior members of the Biden Administration repeatedly stated that America “stands with the people of Afghanistan”.
Swallowing pride, swallowing nothing
Already this year more than 300 children have died from malnutrition, the country’s largest media outlet reports, and admittances are rising to 20-25 children per day.
“Since the beginning of the new year (2022), 59,883 severe malnutrition cases were registered, 137,096 children had moderate malnutrition, and 323 have died,” said Jawid Hazhir, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health.
The $7 billion of the nation’s money held in the U.S. was frozen from access when it was needed the most, and as the country deteriorated heading into February, the White House announced it would steal $3.5 billion to settle lawsuits brought against the Taliban from an association of 9/11 victims, sparking outrage, including among the association.
The World Bank will use it’s share of the Afghan funds by bypassing Taliban sanctions and giving the money directly to United Nations agencies and international aid groups operating in the country’s agricultural and education sectors.
$1 billion not withstanding, the U.S. government has failed to clearly outline how the money will be used despite the dire needs on the ground. While the Administration drags feet and knuckles over the aftermath of its poorly-planned retreat from the Taliban advance, it did, in February, release guidelines for how to transact in the country without fearing for sanction penalties.
“Payments of taxes, fees, or import duties to, or the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services from” the Taliban, Haqqani Network or any entity in which they own more than 50 percent, is authorized for humanitarian operations, the Treasury said.
The War in Ukraine has sucked all the oxygen out room over the U.S. culpability in the humanitarian catastrophes of Yemen and Afghanistan, and the fact that the U.S. hasn’t released the South Asian country’s money, despite the fact it’s 250% more than UNICEF’s largest-ever funding request, is shocking.