by Madison Li ’22
Published Mar. 3rd, 2022
On January 11, 2022, the United States announced another $308 million in aid for the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, accompanied by 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. The U.S. maintains its position as Afghanistan’s largest contributor – the amount of U.S. aid to Afghanistan in the past four months now totals at $782 million, while US-donated COVID-19 vaccine doses totals at 4.3 million.
As said by Emily Horne, the National Security Council spokesperson, the aid “will directly flow through independent humanitarian organizations and help provide lifesaving protection and shelter, essential health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services in response to the growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by COVID-19 and healthcare shortages, drought, malnutrition, and the winter season.”
Along with the turbulent political environment and disastrous economic collapse, over 22 million out of 38 million people in Afghanistan are at risk of starvation. Millions of babies and children are suffering from malnutrition. The situation has only worsened since the U.S.withdrawal and the complete Taliban takeover in August 2021, which prompted many countries to drastically cut international development funding to the government.
Though transporting humanitarian supplies into Afghanistan is not typically an issue, the internal distribution continues to be a more serious problem. The Winter season has brought new obstacles, with snow blocking crucial ground and air routes to essential supplies reaching their intended recipients. An official press release from the United States Agency for International Development also emphasized the importance of ensuring women’s access to assistance, since women’s rights have been retracted by the Taliban in the past 5 months.
The United Nations also released its largest appeal for aid ever on January 11, 2022, highlighting the desperate need in Afghanistan. The UN asks for an additional $623 million to support Afghan refugees sheltering in neighboring nations. The total amount of humanitarian aid thus totals over $5 billion, dwarfing any numbers from last year. The UN’s 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan appealed for only $869 million, out of which $675 million was raised, comprising 42% of the $1.83 billion total funded to Afghanistan in 2021.
The humanitarian aid will be crucial for Afghans, with the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths stating that “without [the UN’s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan] being funded, there won’t be a future.”