World must not forget Afghanistan because of Ukraine war: UN

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World must not forget Afghanistan because of Ukraine war: UN


Since the hasty withdrawal of US-led foreign forces, the country’s humanitarian crisis has deepened

World must not forget Afghanistan because of Ukraine war: UN


The Russia-Ukraine war has caused disruption the world over, especially amid the ongoing pandemic, which is still not over yet. However, according to the United Nations, the Ukraine issue must not make the world forget Afghanistan, warning that ignoring its humanitarian needs could be very risky.

UNHCR Chief Filippo Grandi, who was on a four day visit to Afghanistan, said the international community must continue to engage with the Taliban authorities as Afghanistan desperately needs humanitarian assistance. “The whole attention of the world at the moment is focussed on Ukraine,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Grandi told AFP at a UN compound in the Afghan capital. “But my message coming here is, don’t forget the other situations, where attention and resources are needed and Afghanistan is one of them.”

“The risks of distraction are very high, very high … Humanitarian assistance has to flow no matter how many other crises compete with Afghanistan around the world.”

Donor countries, UN agencies and Afghan civil society are set to take part in an online fund raising event this month. The summit would focus on delivering food, shelter and health services, particularly for women and girls.

The Taliban seized power on August 15 amid a hasty withdrawal of US-led foreign forces, and since then the country’s humanitarian crisis has deepened.


The UN and other global aid agencies have said that more than half of Afghanistan’s 38 million people are facing hunger this winter. In January, the UN made its biggest-ever single-country aid appeal, calling for $5 billion to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. But Grandi said that the war in Ukraine has already started to make it difficult to raise funds for Afghanistan.

The UNHCR itself had made an appeal of $340 million for Afghanistan for 2022 but so far has managed to raise only about $100 million, he said.

 Generous response needed

“So, we need to push because the needs are the same now as they were in September, just after the Taliban takeover,” he said.

“Generous response has to continue for Afghanistan,” he said, adding that a country that has millions of its citizens living as refugees in neighbouring countries like Iran and Pakistan.

Grandi, who acknowledged that the security situation across the country had improved since the Taliban came to power, said that aid related discussions with the Talibans have been increasingly frank and open. “Since the Taliban stormed back to power, about 200,000 internally displaced people have also returned to their homes, thanks to improved security,” he said.


“And if the Taliban continue to make progress on issues like women’s rights, then steady international aid will also continue to come to Afghanistan,” Grandi added.

Global donors led by Washington have insisted that any foreign aid will depend on the Taliban’s policy when it comes to women’s rights to education and work.

Since coming to power the Taliban have imposed several restrictions on women, but officials have said that secondary schools for girls would reopen soon. “We will see in few days when schools reopen, then the international community will take note,” Grandi said.

“When 25 years ago this country fell off the radar screen, it ended very badly … we cannot go down the same road. I hope that common sense will prevail,” he said, referring to a brutal civil war of the 1990s and the ensuing first term of the Taliban that lasted until 2001 when they were toppled by US-led forces after the September 11 attacks.

Courtesy: AFP

Food security worsens as wages fall: World Bank


Food security in Afghanistan has deteriorated sharply since the Taliban took power in August, while wages have fallen “dramatically” for more than two-thirds of workers, as per a World Bank survey.

The report found 70 per cent of the households surveyed said they were unable to meet their basic needs for food and other essentials, twice as many as in a previous survey conducted in May 2021.

There also was a ‘significant’ decrease in both the quality and quantity of food consumed. “The results suggest that while the Afghan population is still able to find work and access some key public services, the situation is quite fragile,” according to the report, which was based on data gathered by telephone between October and December 2021 of nearly 5,000 Afghan households.

The World Bank warned “that an imminent and dramatic decline in welfare outcomes and access to services could occur unless salaries, at least for key services, can be restored and food security improved.”

Afghanistan has been gripped by an economic crisis since the Taliban takeover after countries cut off development programmes and froze its foreign reserves, though some humanitarian aid flows have resumed.


Wages have declined markedly across industries and regions, and more Afghans are looking for work in both urban and rural areas than a year and a half ago, the survey said.

The quantity of available jobs has increased in the countryside, but has decreased in the cities and suburbs.

The share of public sector jobs shrank, and a larger proportion of households reported being self-employed, according to the data.

However, more Afghan children are attending school, and more girls are attending class than in the previous survey on the subject conducted two years ago, though their enrolment remains lower than boys and has not improved in urban areas, especially for secondary school.

“While disparity in overall school attendance by gender remains high, data indicate that at the primary level, more girls are in school, with attendance levels overall higher for both boys and girls, compared to the situation in the fall of 2019,” the report said. “The share of households reporting sending their girls to school also increased by 10 percentage points in the same time period, but there are large differences between rural and urban areas.”

Girls also are leaving school earlier, since in urban areas, “the share of households sending their girls to both primary and secondary school declined.” The survey also found that 94 per cent of people were able to obtain medical attention over the period surveyed, with little difference between gender or location.




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