Social Issues

HRW says humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has ‘economic roots’

Kabul, Mar 2 (EFE).- Non profit Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday that the humanitarian crisis that Afghanistan has been going through since the Taliban came to power “is in essence an economic crisis” due to outside restrictions imposed on the country’s banking sector and international humanitarian funds.

“Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis is in essence an economic crisis. Afghans see food in the market but lack the cash to buy it. Health workers are ready to save lives but have no salaries or supplies,” HRW’s Asia advocacy director, John Sifton, said in a statement.

“Billions have been pledged for aid but remain unspent because banks can’t transfer or access funds,” he added.

In the report, HRW criticized the actions taken by the United States since the seizure of Kabul by the fundamentalists on Aug. 15, including the suspension of the recognition of Afghanistan’s Central Bank.

These actions “have cut off the country’s economy from the world and severely curtailed the payment of vital assistance and salaries of millions of teachers, health workers, and other essential workers,” HRW said.

These measures designed to restrict the Taliban’s access to foreign funds, nevertheless also impair the Afghans’ basic human rights to a livelihood, food, health care, and life itself, according to the non profit.

These problems are aggravated in the case of women and girls due to the restrictions imposed by fundamentalists on their right to work and education, as well as on their freedom of movement and speech, HRW said.

The international human rights organization also reported a sharp rise in acute malnutrition in Afghanistan, where it said ” 95 percent of households have been experiencing food insecurity” and several children are starving to death daily.

To tackle this economic crisis, HRW proposed recognition of the Afghan Central Bank, which, acting independently of the Taliban and monitored by external auditors, would allow the institution to process legitimate commercial and humanitarian transactions.

Recently, the US and the World Bank unlocked billions of dollars in aid that could be used to help stabilize the country, and also authorized Afghan banks to participate in international trade again.

However, HRW pointed out that the restrictions on the Afghan Central Bank are “making it difficult or impossible for private banks to process large transactions or withdrawals and impairing the underlying functionality of the country’s economy.”

“The US and Taliban should reach agreements on solutions to avert further starvation. Pledges of aid and authorization for humanitarian work will not be sufficient to feed the entire nation,” Sifton said. EFE


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