Three months after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, a catastrophic attack is imminent. Poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. Without prompt and prudent action from other countries, more people will starve to death in 2022 alone than the violence of the past 20 years.
This precarious situation is exacerbated by the decisions taken far from Afghanistan. Following the Taliban coup, international funds for the Afghan government were abolished immediately. This came in the wake of US and UN Security Council sanctions targeting the Taliban, which is now an illegal regime. About $ 10bn of Afghanistan’s largest bank was shut down by the US. In addition, donors suspended development assistance.
About 75 percent of Afghanistan’s government spending, including medical care, was funded by international aid. A sudden layoff has left hundreds of thousands of government workers without pay.
Millions of other people who depended on it were extremely poor. The collapse of business and commerce has wreaked havoc, and public health systems have been unable to function.
Today, economics and banking are on the verge of collapse. International banks cannot deal directly with Afghanistan’s largest bank. Particularly because of US and UN sanctions, which the European Union follows, Afghanistan’s banks are isolated from the rest of the world. With a few exceptions, they will not receive any foreign funding.
The US Treasury government has allowed for non-compliance. The “General License” from the US Treasury allows the UN and other non-governmental organizations worldwide to take action on other humanitarian action. However, banks around the world remain vigilant to avoid the risks imposed by the US.
In addition to the economic crisis, there is a severe drought. According to the World Food Program, about 40 percent of crops have been lost this year. About half of the population, nearly 20 million people, are unable to feed themselves daily – and that number is expected to rise, according to UN agencies. An estimated 3.2 million children under the age of five are expected to be malnourished by the end of the year. Of these, at least 1 million children are at risk of dying if they do not receive immediate medical attention.
Few citizens with money in their accounts line up outside banks for days. Fighting begins when desperate people are told that there is no money. Their families are hungry. Aid agencies struggle to raise funds to pay the salaries of physicians and educators, as well as to purchase medicines or firewood for pregnant women ‘s rooms.
The Taliban’s human rights record, particularly in regard to women and minority groups, undermines the reluctance of states to recognize government and allow funding for the Afghan government to make sense. No one wants to support the Taliban government. But the exorbitant pursuit of banks and sanctions to kill civilians of Afghanistan at a much higher rate than the Taliban, Islamic State in the province of Khorasan, militants, former governments, and international military forces have worked together for the past 20 years.
Afghan people should not be denied basic health care and be left without food because countries around the world see economic hunger as the only weapon that could affect the Taliban government. The United Nations is punishing civilians in Afghanistan for its brutal actions.
For women, the stigma we see being imposed under the Taliban will be less effective compared to the deteriorating economic crisis, which limits their right to health care and education many years ago. The humanitarian crisis we have just mentioned will affect the people of Afghanistan for generations to come. As women’s rights activist Jamila Afghani said in a statement to the Swedish Committee: “We are not helping Afghan women by starving them.”
We represent European NGOs that reach millions of people on the ground. We welcome the recent government’s initiative to help the people of Afghanistan. But these promises will not work if UN agencies, NGOs and the people of Afghanistan are unable to use banks.
Punishment research shows that it has a high impact on civilians while nothing has to do with the lives of politicians. The US and the EU, together with the UN Security Council, need to review sanctions and take action to address the financial crisis and the availability of funds to reduce human suffering.
People of all nations who for the past 20 years have pledged to help the people of Afghanistan to achieve peace, development and human rights have a responsibility to prevent the collapse of famine and death. And now is the time to act.
The views expressed in this article are for the benefit of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.