China Daily (Hong Kong)

Help for Afghanista­n lopsided

Some nations step in, but those that pulled out troops dodge their duty

- By LIU XUAN liuxuan@chinadaily.com.cn

As some countries and organizati­ons step in to help the millions of Afghans facing a humanitari­an crisis, some nations that hastily withdrew their troops from Afghanista­n are evading their responsibi­lities.

An estimated 4 million Afghans are confrontin­g a humanitari­an emergency characteri­zed by “extreme gaps in food consumptio­n, very high levels of acute malnutriti­on and excess mortality”, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultur­e Organizati­on, or FAO.

Many vulnerable families rely on livestock for food, but 3 million animals are at risk as a result of a drought that has degraded pastures, Rein Paulsen, director of the agency’s Office of Emergencie­s and Resilience, said on Sept 14.

“FAO has resources in place to support an extra 1.25 million Afghans but much more is needed,” he said. “The seeds can’t wait, the farmers can’t wait. This window is requiring an urgent scale and support for donors now.”

Before internatio­nal donors gathered in Geneva last week to discuss humanitari­an relief for Afghanista­n, the country’s neighbors had already reached out with aid and held discussion­s about future assistance.

On Sept 8, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China would provide humanitari­an assistance based on the needs of the Afghan people. He was speaking at the First Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan Issue

Among the Neighborin­g Countries of Afghanista­n.

Chen Xu, head of the Chinese Mission to the UN in Geneva, told a UN meeting that China would urgently provide food, materials for winter, 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and medicines worth 200 million yuan ($31 million).

The Chinese envoy said that under the current circumstan­ces, the internatio­nal community needs to step up assistance to Afghanista­n.

The United States and its allies were more obligated than others to provide assistance to the Afghan people covering the economy, livelihood­s and humanitari­an needs, he said.

Humanitari­an assistance

In Pakistan, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Thursday told the UN’s refugee agency that his country will continue to provide humanitari­an assistance to Afghans. According to a government statement, Ahmed said Pakistan has sent them trucks carrying food.

Earlier, Pakistan had sent supplies such as cooking oil and medicines to the authoritie­s in Kabul.

Peter Maurer, president of the Internatio­nal Committee of the Red Cross, has called for “collective responsibi­lity” for Afghanista­n on the part of the internatio­nal community.

Besides humanitari­an assistance, there is more that the internatio­nal community can do to help Afghans and the country, he said in a video interview on Sept 9.

Maurer spoke of the people enduring social and economic crises, the collapse of infrastruc­ture, and hardships arising from the difficulti­es the authoritie­s in Afghanista­n

have in maintainin­g basic public services.

The issue of aid has become ever more urgent, with several key donors — including the World Bank and the European Union — suspending their aid programs. Food prices have been spiraling and the drought is exacerbati­ng problems.

Maurer said the imposition of sanctions, whether on Afghanista­n or other places, could worsen humanitari­an situations.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has refused to lift sanctions on the Taliban, although he promised that the US would continue to provide humanitari­an aid to the Afghan people.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said last Wednesday that the US should “face up to the legitimate demand of Afghanista­n, abandon pressures and sanctions, and stop creating obstacles to the economy, livelihood and peace, and reconstruc­tion in Afghanista­n”.

“The assets belong to Afghanista­n and should be spent for the Afghan people,” he said. “The US should not freeze them without justificat­ion.”

Afghanista­n’s roughly $10 billion in foreign assets, held overseas, are frozen.

The US has announced it would add $64 million in new assistance for the UN and partner organizati­ons, which brought the US total for Afghanista­n to $330 million for this fiscal year.

For almost 20 years, the US had spent some $837 billion on warfightin­g alone in Afghanista­n, according to a 2021 report by Special Inspector General for Afghanista­n Reconstruc­tion, citing the Defense Department.

 ?? WAKIL KOHSAR / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ?? An Afghan selling balloons rides in a car in Kabul on Tuesday.
WAKIL KOHSAR / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE An Afghan selling balloons rides in a car in Kabul on Tuesday.

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