US announces $ 308 million in aid to Afghans as crisis deepens – The Denver Post

By AAMER MADHANI

WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States on Tuesday announced $ 308 million in additional humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, offering new aid to the country as it heads into a humanitarian crisis since the Taliban took control it almost five months ago.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement that new aid from the United States Agency for International Development will flow through independent humanitarian organizations and will be used to provide shelter, health care, wintering aid, emergency food aid, water, sanitation facilities. and hygiene services.

The country’s long-disrupted economy has been in free fall since the Taliban took control. Almost 80% of the previous Afghan government’s budget came from the international community. This money, now cut, financed hospitals, schools, factories and ministries. Desperation for such basic necessities has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as healthcare shortages, drought and malnutrition.

The International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid organization, said the community health workers it supports have reported a sharp increase in the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Khost and Herat provinces. The group also reported that food prices in Afghanistan have increased by around 10-20 percent from the previous five years.

IRC President and CEO David Milliband said that “the cause of today’s humanitarian catastrophe is clear: the economic tourniquet applied to Afghanistan”.

“It is high time to change our approach,” he said.

USAID called on the Taliban to allow “all aid workers, especially women …

“The United States continues to urge the Taliban to allow unimpeded humanitarian access, safe conditions for humanitarians, independent assistance to all vulnerable people, and freedom of movement for aid workers of all genders,” the agency said in a statement.

Separately, the United Nations 2022 humanitarian response plan for Afghanistan, unveiled on Tuesday, revealed that the country needed $ 4.4 billion in funding, the largest humanitarian appeal ever for a country.

“The events in Afghanistan over the past year have unfolded at breakneck speed and with profound consequences for the Afghan people,” said Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. ’emergency. “The world is perplexed and is looking for the right way to react. Meanwhile, a real humanitarian catastrophe is looming. “

The Biden administration’s new pledge brings U.S. humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to more than $ 780 million since the chaotic end of the 20-year-old war in August. The United Nations says 22% of Afghanistan’s 38 million people live on the brink of famine and 36% face acute food insecurity.

In addition, the White House has pledged to send Afghanistan 1 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX, a World Health Organization initiative to improve access to vaccines. With the new influx of doses, the United States will have sent 4.3 million doses to Afghanistan, which is struggling to cope with the relentless pandemic.

International funding for Afghanistan has been suspended and billions of dollars in the country’s assets abroad, mostly in the United States, were frozen after the Taliban took control of the country in mid-August.

The decision of the United States and the international community not to recognize the Taliban government, which ruled with a strict interpretation of Islamic law when it was in power from 1996 to 2001, created a dilemma for Western powers as to which how to provide enough aid without giving the Taliban legitimacy. They hope that by giving money directly to independent aid organizations, they can keep it out of the hands of the Taliban.

Lack of funding has led to an increase in poverty, and aid groups have warned of impending humanitarian disaster. State employees, from doctors and teachers to administrative officials, have not been paid for months. Banks, meanwhile, have limited the amount of money account holders can withdraw.

The Taliban called on the international community to release funds and help avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

Senator Chris Murphy, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, said it was in the interest the United States and its allies to alleviate the suffering of the Afghans.

“The United States of America has a moral obligation to prevent preventable suffering and a national security imperative to do what we can to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Murphy, D-Conn.

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