International community must ensure immediate delivery of aid and supplies to Afghanistan – Afghanistan
Working with Afghan human rights activists, humanitarian organizations and civil society activists around the world, WILPF urgently calls on the international community to use an effective and practical means to ensure that financial assistance and supplies can be transferred to Afghans. This must be done without compromising women’s rights or ceding control of these resources.
Since the rapid takeover of the country by the Taliban in early August, foreign aid to Afghanistan has almost entirely ceased. Yet, with funding from the international community – including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, foreign governments, and humanitarian agencies – accounting for nearly 75% of Afghanistan’s public expenditure budget before the government came to power. Taliban, his sudden absence left the country on the brink of collapse.
The health system has been hit particularly hard, with $ 600 million in international health care aid now frozen.
In the past two months, doctors and other health workers – including 14,000 women – have not been paid. Deprived of access to basic necessities, including food and medicine, they cannot continue to treat patients and health clinics are closing.
The World Health Organization recently noted in a statement that the country is currently experiencing an increase in measles cases, as progress made over the past 20 years to dramatically reduce maternal and child mortality rates and polio risks to be canceled in a matter of weeks.
Meanwhile, the country’s 120,000 female teachers have not only seen their salaries cut, but have also been banned from teaching by the Taliban. Women working in rural areas – already one of the most marginalized groups in Afghanistan – are also unable to work or receive pay.
In any case, the lives, health and well-being of these women and their families are in extreme danger and the international community must act now to protect their human rights.
** Aid suspended to prevent Taliban from accessing funds **
After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in mid-August, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund immediately suspended payments to the country while the United States froze more than $ 9 billion in accounts with of the Afghan Central Bank.
Other aid groups and foreign governments have also halted the flow of funding into the country, resulting in massive and worsening shortages of food, medicine, money and other essential supplies.
The international community had a valid rationale behind the asset freeze: failure to do so would mean de facto recognition of the Taliban by giving the group unconditional control of economic resources. As a result, any leverage to pressure the Taliban to respect human rights, and the rights of women in particular, would be lost. Notably, the Taliban remain listed as a global terrorist group by the United Nations Security Council, and many countries have imposed broad sanctions against the militants.
But aid organizations and activists demand that the international community recognize the gravity of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan and take immediate action.
“The question is how to guarantee direct financing of the wages of public sector workers – which is not considered humanitarian aid – without allowing the Taliban to have funds,” said Madeleine Rees, secretary general. of WILPF.
Rees suggests that the simplest mechanism would be to create a trust fund with specifically formulated goals so that the UN, or another body overseeing the process, can make payments directly to the beneficiaries of the trust.
“This would be in addition to humanitarian aid, which would continue to be provided through specialized agencies and NGOs,” she said. “I understand that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank are discussing how to proceed. WILPF also demanded the creation of such a trust, along with Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Rees adds that she is concerned that the UNDP and the World Bank, which do not have a track record of implementing programs and policies based on gender analysis and women’s rights, are focusing maybe not about respecting women’s rights when it comes to how trust is setup.
“Aid policy seems to be developed without consultation with women, whether inside or outside Afghanistan,” she said. “Without the participation of women, the UN and other actors will essentially institutionalize the inequalities created by the Taliban, making it even more difficult for women to exercise their basic human rights.
WILPF Afghanistan President Jamila Afghani said some engagement with the Taliban may be needed to allow aid to flow to Afghans, but that sanctions against the group should be maintained until the group respects international standards on human rights, and in particular on women’s rights.
“While we understand the concerns of the international community about allowing funding to flow into the hands of the Taliban, what must be a priority at this time is the safety and well-being of the Afghan people.” , she says. “The international community must do everything in its power to ensure that aid can reach the country. “
The United States recently announced that it had authorized various government and non-government groups to engage with the Taliban in providing humanitarian assistance, and issued a license allowing exports of food and medicine to Afghanistan.
But aid organizations and Afghan activists are sounding the alarm that aid is not coming quickly enough, or is not coming from enough sources.
“The Afghans are facing a catastrophe, especially as the country heads into winter,” Afghani says. “The world must not turn its back.
Join WILPF in appealing to Afghanistan for help. Share this blog on social media, write to your representatives and spread the word!