Conflicts & War

HRW urges easing sanctions on Afghanistan over hunger

Kabul, Nov 11 (EFE).- The nonprofit Human Right Watch (HRW) urged international agencies on Thursday to ease sanctions and restrictions that prevent financial aid from being sent to Afghanistan to prevent widespread famine in the country.

“Afghanistan’s economy and social services are collapsing, with Afghans throughout the country already suffering acute malnutrition,” HRW’s Asia advocacy director John Sifton said in a statement.

Following the Taliban coming to power on Aug.15, international agencies stopped aid and funding to Afghanistan that exacerbated the already serious crisis in the Asian country devastated by decades of war.

According to HRW, millions of dollars in lost income, high inflation, liquidity crisis, and shortages of cash have deprived much of the population of access to food, water, shelter, and healthcare.

“People are really desperate. When you don’t have food on your plate, you cannot think of anything else. No one has money to buy fuel, to warm the house once it snows, or to buy food,” a woman living in central Afghanistan told HRW.

The situation in the country has disproportionately affected women, with greater problems in doing paid work due to Taliban restrictions.

“Even in areas in which women are still allowed to work – such as education and health care – they may be unable to comply with Taliban requirements for a male family member to escort women to and from work,” said the nonprofit.

HRW referred to reports from local media about increasing number of families selling their children, almost always girls, for marriage, to obtain food or repay debts.

The rapidly deteriorating situation has been driven by the decisions of governments and international banking institutions to not deal directly with the Central Bank of Afghanistan due to bilateral and UN sanctions by the United States and other countries.

This has increased liquidity problems for banks and cash shortages.

“Current US policies are not mitigating unintended impacts, nor are they manifesting a clear policy objective,” HRW observed.

The UN World Food Program has issued multiple warnings about the worsening of food insecurity and the risk of large-scale hunger related deaths throughout Afghanistan in the coming months.

HRW urged governments, the UN, the World Bank and the Taliban to work towards an agreement that would allow the Afghan central bank access to the international banking system.

“Widespread death and suffering from hunger are preventable if governments act urgently to address Afghanistan’s economic crisis,” said Sifton. EFE


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