Ravaged by prolonged wars and now under the control of Islamist group, Afghanistan is on the brink of collapse, economically and socially. The global community is wary of extending financial support because of the Taliban’s failure to honour its promise of protecting human rights. While the concerns of the countries around the world about providing aid directly to the Taliban are understandable, the fact remains that it is the ordinary people of Afghanistan who are made to suffer for no fault of theirs. The country is in the grip of a serious humanitarian crisis. Only a global organisation such as the United Nations can carry out a coordinated action plan to ensure non-discriminatory distribution of assistance across all sections of Afghan society. Most of the countries have refused to recognise the Taliban regime. As a result, international assistance is hard to come by. After the Taliban takeover, foreign assistance was frozen and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank halted loans. The United States also stopped $9.4 billion in reserves to the country’s central bank. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) also asked its 39 member nations to block Taliban assets. In such a scenario, Afghanistan’s economy has been crumbling and prices soaring. The United Nations cautioned that 97% of the population could soon go below the poverty line, compared with 72% in the pre-Taliban takeover period. Many banks have been closed since the Taliban takeover, and those that are open have limited cash withdrawals.
Nearly four million Afghans are believed to be facing a food emergency and most of them live in rural areas. While the international community has pledged, at a recent UN meeting in Geneva, to provide over $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to the people, it is not enough to tide over the immediate crisis. The aid money will not be handed over to the Taliban. Instead, it will be managed by the UN and aid organisations and will be spent to provide food and medicine to internally displaced Afghans. Despite assurances that international funding won’t go to the Taliban, the Islamists can still monitor and exert influence over aid agencies and humanitarian workers. Under these circumstances, it is essential for the Taliban rulers to demonstrate their sincerity in protecting the rights of minorities and women and take verifiable measures to earn the recognition of the international community. A major challenge for any country in recognising the new regime is that many Taliban ministers and high-ranking officials are still on the United Nations blacklist for their terror antecedents. Despite the politics around aid, the fact remains that the international community cannot turn a blind eye to the plight of the Afghan people.
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