Home News The humanitarian crisis is the only certainty left to the Afghans – Junko Terao

The humanitarian crisis is the only certainty left to the Afghans – Junko Terao

by admin

In a hotel on a hill just outside Oslo, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has been discussed for two days, and the situation in the country in general. Seated at the table, a delegation from the government of Kabul – which no Western country has yet recognized – and the representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and the European Union. As expected, speaking with the press the Taliban defined the talks, which will last until Wednesday, “a first step towards the legitimacy of the Afghan government”, while the Norwegian foreign minister Anniken Huitfeldt specified that it is not in any way a question of a recognition of the new executive who took office after 15 August in Kabul. But the ongoing emergency in Afghanistan requires concrete actions that inevitably involve a dialogue with the Taliban.

The severity of the economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan can be measured by the unprecedented request for aid made in recent days by the United Nations to the international community: five billion dollars to save the 22 million Afghans living in the country and the 5.7 million refugees in Afghanistan. neighboring ones, the highest figure ever requested to help a country in difficulty and prevent the fallout from cascading other crises (such as migration in Europe).

Frozen funds
Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said he was optimistic: fundraising in 2021 went well and there seems to be widespread awareness of the ongoing crisis in the country. But the donations, however large, will not be enough to heal a structural crisis resulting from the fact that the funds of the Central Bank of Afghanistan – 9.5 billion dollars – are frozen in the United States and another 450 million are blocked by the International Monetary Fund. Complicating the situation are the claims of the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the Afghan funds held in New York (the US government will rule on this on January 28).

The result is that the state machinery is at a standstill, the salaries of officials, doctors, teachers and other essential workers have not been paid for months, and even those with savings in the bank cannot withdraw them because the banks are short of cash. Prices are skyrocketing and people have nothing to eat. From Afghanistan come stories of families being forced to sell their children and a disturbing increase in kidney harvesting for trade.

The Taliban regime is subject to US sanctions, the Afghan central bank is not, but sending money from abroad is impossible: foreign banks refuse to act as intermediaries and send the money back for fear of future retaliation by the US Treasury. In a long and detailed editorial, the New York Times well explains the situation, in which the role of the United States is crucial. “Targeted financial sanctions are an appropriate and powerful tool of punishment against regimes. But too often their cumulative effect over time is indistinguishable from collective punishment ”.

Shopkeepers cannot open credit lines to import goods, farmers cannot be paid for what they produce: humanitarian aid is not enough, if trade stops, the country collapses. An NGO that ran a school to train programmers until August began using cryptocurrencies to send aid to students, solving the problem of passing through banks. It is an alternative that other humanitarian organizations are also considering. The Taliban are proving to be far worse than feared, but hitting them means starving the entire population. This is what they insist on in Oslo, asking for the funds to be defrosted.

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