Taliban anniversary: ​​”Sometimes we have dinner, sometimes we don’t.” Afghan food crisis leaves the West in a dilemma a year after the Taliban came to power

Along the way, other women quietly join the journey. It will take them three hours to get to the city center. But every day they are driven by excruciating hunger and the need to feed their children.

Their destination is a bakery, one of many in Kabul, where crowds of women began to gather in the late afternoon, patiently waiting for customers to give them some bread.

“Sometimes we have dinner, sometimes we don’t,” says Rahmati. “The situation has been bad for three years, but the last year was the worst. My husband tried to go to Iran for work, but he was deported.”

United Nations He speaks that almost half of the country is facing acute famine. According to May report According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), 43% of the Afghan population eats less than once a day, with 90% of Afghans surveyed reporting food as their basic need.

It’s a sobering statistic that reflects the first year of Taliban rule as the country was isolated and increasingly impoverished. When the US and its allies left the country, they imposed sanctions, froze $9 billion in central bank funds and cut off foreign aid that once accounted for almost 80% of Afghanistan’s annual budget.

Outside the Foreign Ministry, a large mural, one of the few painted in English, proclaims the official position of the Taliban government: “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants positive and peaceful relations with the world.”

However, after a year of rule, the Taliban are still not recognized by any country in the world, and international funding is still largely frozen. One of the main problems for Western countries was the marginalization of minorities and women by the new government, which includes a virtual ban on girls from receiving secondary education.

Repeated promises by the Taliban to allow girls to return to school have yet to be kept. In late June, Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzade opposed international pressure, saying Afghanistan would make its own rules.

“The point is that the United States is trying to find moral justification for the collective punishment of the people of Afghanistan through asset freezes and sanctions against Afghanistan as a whole,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Kahar Balkhi told CNN. Saturday: “I don’t believe there should be any terms to release funds that don’t belong to me, that didn’t belong to the previous administration, that didn’t belong to the government before. This is the collective money of the people of Afghanistan.”

Amid fears of a full-blown famine last winter, the US – through the World Bank – provided more than $1 billion in aid funding.

“This is an example of an area where we are going to continue our pragmatic dialogue with the Taliban,” a senior State Department official told CNN. “We are going to talk to them about access to humanitarian aid, about measures that we think can increase the macroeconomic stability of the country.”

But a growing chorus of aid workers and economists say that this is not enough and that the ongoing freeze on Afghan funds is having devastating consequences.

“This is a message no one wants to hear,” Vicki Aken, country director for the International Rescue Committee in Afghanistan, told CNN. “This policy puts women at risk. In the name of feminist politics, we see women starving to death.”

The US is not close to recapitalizing the Afghan central bank, according to a senior State Department official. While there have been discussions about this, the official said they still have deep concerns that assets could be diverted to terrorism.

“We do not have confidence that this institution has the security and controls in place to manage assets responsibly and inclusively. Needless to say, the Taliban’s harboring of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri adds to the deep concerns we have long felt about diversion of funds. terrorist groups,” they said.

The Taliban refuse to acknowledge that al-Zawahiri, who was killed in a US drone strike earlier this month, was even in the capital, further complicating any effort to normalize relations with the Taliban.

In the markets of Kabul, the stalls are bursting with fresh fruits and products. The problem, sellers say, is that most people can’t afford them.

“Flour prices have doubled. Vegetable oil prices have more than doubled,” says one vendor.

A few meters away, a boy is rummaging through a trash can, collecting plastic waste to resell.

Shakeela Rahmati and other women take a three-hour walk from their home on the outskirts of Kabul to the city center.
The Taliban's de facto ban on girls' secondary education remains, so no coursework at this non-formal school will contribute to a diploma.

“Humanitarian assistance only helps buy time. It doesn’t grow, it doesn’t increase income, it doesn’t create jobs,” says Anthony Cordesman, chairman emeritus for strategy at the bipartisan think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies in the US. Washington.

Kordesman warns that Afghanistan’s general economic downturn did not begin with the return of the Taliban to power, nor did the country’s dependence on foreign aid.

“If we can find ways to negotiate an effective aid process where we know the money will go to the people, where it will be widely distributed, where it will not just support the Taliban government, then these are negotiating initiatives that we need to implement as far as possible. But creating a fabric of lies is the equivalent of an aid process based on a house of cards – taking this money that could go to many other countries that can effectively use aid does not make sense.

As nights get colder in Kabul and days get shorter, aid workers fear this winter will be even worse than last.

“It’s in the American interest not to watch the economy collapse,” a senior State Department official said. “We recognize that the humanitarian crisis remains serious and dire.”

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