Afghanistan is facing a second crisis — a humanitarian crisis — as western countries race to pull citizens and allies from Kabul and international aid organizations, concerned with funding international terrorism, pull the plug on aid programs to the beleaguered country.
The Washington Post reports Wednesday that Afghanistan, “one of the poorest and most aid-dependent countries in the world,” is now facing several threats at once: the return of the Taliban and the departure of coalition allies, COVID-19, and a drought that has ravaged the country’s food supply leaving at least a third of the population without food.
“An internal document of the World Food Program warns that, ‘A humanitarian crisis of incredible proportions is unfolding before our eyes. Conflict combined with drought and covid-19 is pushing the people of Afghanistan into a humanitarian catastrophe,’” according to the Washington Post.
“According to this document, more than 1 in 3 Afghans — some 14 million people — are hungry today, while 2 million children are malnourished and urgently need treatment. More than 3.5 million — out of a population of 38 million — are internally displaced. Just to make matters worse, a massive drought has devastated crops. More than 40 percent of the country’s crops were lost to drought this year,” the outlet reports.
Aid organizations, including the United Nations, initially said they would stay in Afghanistan even after the United States pulls out on August 31st, but the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground has left even the U.N. concerned for its workers. The United Nations actually warned, back in July, that “time was running out,” and that a “worst-case scenario” was arising in Afghanistan, even as the Biden administration insisted it was not aware of the Taliban’s military blitz.
Amid the military crisis, Afghanistan is suffering from a “devastating third wave” of COVID-19, according to National Public Radio, and its fledgling health care system is now on the verge of total “collapse.”
“In recent weeks, there’s been an exponential rise in cases, even with limited testing,” NPR reported. “On June 16, there were 2,313 new cases, which the United Nations reports was “the highest number of new cases [in Afghanistan] recorded in a single day since the onset of the pandemic.”
“And the United Nations says that nearly half of all people being tested in recent weeks — 42% — are positive for the coronavirus, suggesting it is widespread,” the outlet said.
“The country’s health system is collapsing,” the Washington Post added. “One official still at his post in Kabul, who spoke to me anonymously because he was not authorized to do so, told me: “We don’t have medicine, consumables and required basic equipment in the government-run hospitals. Staff salaries are pending for the last three months at least.” And this is taking place while Afghanistan is suffering from a crippling third wave of covid-19, the true dimensions of which are unknown.”
The situation may soon worsen. Fortune Magazine noted last week that countries are now “racing” to head off financial aid disbursements to Afghanistan, over concerns the money could simply end up in the hands of Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.
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