How are the US and other countries providing aid to Afghanistan amidst the humanitarian crisis?

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The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan in August has accelerated a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse in the country that is further pushing people into poverty and a surge in refugees. The US and other Western countries have been struggling with the difficult choice of how to provide humanitarian aid to the country — while trying to figure out how to deal with the Taliban without giving them the legitimacy they seek.

At a recent meeting hosted by Russia in Moscow, the new Taliban rulers gained backing from 10 regional powers for the idea of a United Nations donor conference to help the country stop its economic meltdown. During the talks, Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, and formerly central Asian states Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, joined the Taliban in urging the UN for this conference to happen soon to help rebuild the country.

Russia has called on the Taliban to form a government that includes all ethnic groups and diverse political forces in Afghanistan. The talks mark one of Taliban’s most significant international meetings since it seized control. Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said Russia would send humanitarian aid soon but it will not recognize the Taliban government until it upholds the promises made when it took power about inclusivity in the new government.

The Taliban has also continued to impose restrictions on women’s rights and erase two decades of freedom. The group claimed they would give permission to women to go back to work and school but have not done so. A group of prominent Afghan women went to the UN headquarters in New York this month urging the security council to pressure the Taliban to match their words with their actions.

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The women who visited included former Afghan politician and peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi, former politician Naheed Fareed, former diplomat Asila Wardak, and journalist Anisa Shaheed. They asked the UN to demand the Taliban keep their word about imposing better conditions, mainly before awarding the country’s assembly seat. Koofi told reporters, “The UN needs to give that seat to somebody who represents the rights of everyone in Afghanistan.”

Many Afghan people living in the US continue to worry about the living conditions and safety of their family back home in Afghanistan. Arya Azeemi is from Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, and has lived in the US for almost 21 years, for around the same time since the Taliban lost control in 2000 after the September 11 attacks. 

Azeemi was able to get a chance to create a life of more opportunities but now feels like the country is moving back in time with the Taliban putting her family in danger. Each day, she tries to find ways to help her family members move to a safer place in the US, “My cousins are still living in my country,” she said, “We have lots of stress.”

Azeemi shared that not only the women in her family are in danger but men are too, “They are women with young children and one of them has a son with tattoos on his neck but the Taliban doesn’t allow tattoos, they beat and punish people which is why she’s keeping him at home too.” Azeemi is the admin of the Afghan Women Cultural Center of New England, where Afghan women living in the US come together to celebrate their culture and help with the arrivals of Afghan families. “It’s not easy to bring them to the US,” she said, “It is very difficult but I hope they will be accepted.” The Biden administration has decided to take the decision to resettle the 55,600 Afghan refugees into permanent homes from the US military bases where they lived during the past weeks.

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The US special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmy Khalizad announced he is stepping down from his position. “I decided now is the right time to do so, at a juncture when we are entering a new phase in our Afghanistan policy.” Those who defended Khalizad’s decision have argued that he was handed an impossible task due to the lack of time before the deadline of withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan. However, others have criticized him for initially agreeing to a deadline by the Trump administration without setting any conditions for a cease-fire and peace accord between the Taliban and the previous government.

Along with that, Deputy US Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said he sees under no circumstance, the Taliban being allowed to access Afghan central bank reserves, most of which are held in the US. “We believe that it’s essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people,” Adeyemo told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. “That’s exactly what we’re doing,” The Taliban have called for the US to lift a block on more than $9.5 billion Afghan Central bank assets that are being held outside the country as the government struggles to contain the deep-economic crisis.

The Department of the Treasury has continued to take every step necessary to make it clear to humanitarian groups that Washington aims to facilitate the flow of aid to the Afghan people, according to Adeyemo, but warned that the Taliban must allow the humanitarian assistance to happen in order for it to flow in the country.

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Victoria Gonzalez is a U.S. correspondent for Eat News who covers a variety of topics about the entertainment world and politics.


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