The United States government on Tuesday announced it would give Afghanistan one million COVID-19 vaccines and $ 308 million in aid through humanitarian groups to help the country which has been in crisis these days. last months.
President Joe Biden’s administration announced the new multi-million dollar aid package, which brings the US total to $ 780 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan since the US withdrawal from the country, resulting in the Taliban takeover in August.
The government has said the US Agency for International Development’s $ 308 million will go to independent humanitarian groups.
The organizations plan to use the donations for emergency food aid, water, hygiene services, sanitation, health care, shelter and winter necessities, including clothing and footwear. , said Emily Horne, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.
The White House also said it was coordinating with the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative to send an additional one million COVID-19 vaccines to Afghanistan. The United States will have sent 4.3 million doses to the region, which has been severely affected by the pandemic.
The United Nations has said the country is in urgent need of resources and assistance. About 22 percent of the 38 million people living in Afghanistan face food shortages bordering on famine and 36 percent suffer from acute food insecurity.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that the country needed $ 4.4 billion in funding for its humanitarian response plan in Afghanistan. This is the biggest request ever made for a country.
The country’s long-disrupted economy has been in free fall since the Taliban took control. Almost 80 percent 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.
USAID called on the Taliban to allow “all aid workers, especially women …
“The United States continues to urge the Taliban to allow unhindered 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.
“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.
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 or putting money directly into its hands.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.