Poignant scenes

The situation in Afghanistan is worsening day by day, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has once again warned. In addition to human rights violations by the Afghan Taliban and the lack of economic and financial planning, the economic sanctions are causing massive suffering in the country. The country which has known crisis after crisis since 1978 is now facing its worst situation in decades; the ICRC called it “infuriating”. Photographs and videos from Afghanistan show skinny children begging for food on the streets – destitute and starving. The agony that Afghan citizens are going through seems to be more heartbreaking than maddening. There are parents who cannot feed their children and they have nowhere to turn to because the Taliban government itself is unable to muster any support from the world.

This suffering is the result of a tragedy that both internal and external forces have long perpetuated in Afghanistan. The country’s population stands at nearly 40 million and more than half of them face severe food shortages. Then there is the challenge of the harsh and harmful winter months for those who lack clothing, food, heat, nutrition and shelter. If 50 percent of a country’s population are faced with a tragedy of this magnitude, the world must respond and do it quickly before it is too late. The combined effects of the drought and the economic crisis are taking their toll, and after the Taliban takeover in August, that toll has risen rapidly. The financial crisis the country is going through is not expected to ease unless Washington releases some ten billion dollars in assets held in its reserve for Kabul. When Washington froze these assets, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund also cut off Afghanistan’s access to finance.

It is nothing less than a severe punishment for the people and Afghanistan, and not for the Afghan Taliban. Those in power in Kabul are also to blame – if not more – as they followed their own agenda regardless of any national and international reaction to their brutal takeover. Millions of people are now facing freezing cold across Afghanistan and they do not have the bare essentials to survive. It is highly irresponsible and unethical on the part of the global community to continue to turn its back on a country that is on the verge of collapse as a nation, teetering under a catastrophe that haunts ordinary citizens of Afghanistan. The Taliban and the world must get the country out of the precipice it is near. The international community must lift sanctions on banking services to prevent the Afghan economy from falling into free fall. Bilateral and multilateral aid must be immediately restored, putting aside ideological differences.

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