Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the Taliban takeover. Here, a Staff Correspondent for JURIST in Kabul reports on the inadequacy of current international aid to address the country’s dire economic situation and growing impoverishment. For privacy and security reasons, we are withholding our Correspondent’s name. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, more than 1 billion and 700 million USD have been received in cash, according to an official statement by the Taliban Central Bank. The Central Bank’s spokesperson has lately informed the media that it had received the aforementioned sum of money, but he gave no further details on how it would be pumped into society. There is a severe and worsening economic crisis here and it has been reported that some people have sold their body parts and children to buy food for their families.
More than 20 million individuals in the country are reportedly struggling with poverty and poor economic conditions. In Afghanistan, more than half of the population lacks access to clean water and food. Even if international organizations provide food and housing for the poor, the neediest families are most affected by income inequality and rising food prices. Every day, more and more children who are malnourished are admitted to hospitals. Additionally, children and those suffering from malnutrition do not have access to medical services in rural areas, which has led to and continues to be a major cause of child mortality nationwide.
Women and girls are also suffering, in addition to children. Health care, financial resources, food, and other necessities are inaccessible to women and girls. The Taliban leadership forbade women from working for government organizations, which led to the firing of many female civil officials and made it impossible for them to get food and maintain a steady income. The health care system in Afghanistan is broken, which has a negative impact on the lives of pregnant women and young children. The majority of the foreign donor-funded health organizations have since closed, and the public health institutions are barely operating. Additionally, the rising expense of healthcare makes it more challenging for the poor to acquire medical services.
The impact of the money collected by the Taliban is limited by the current central banking system since transaction costs, insurance, fees, and other expenditures are generally quite expensive. Due to the country’s inadequate banking system and the failure of all banking activities, Afghan citizens have restricted access to banking services. In just a few months following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, major banks were forced to close their branches or close entirely, and thousands of people found themselves lacking jobs.
The international aid received so far seems to be not enough since both national and international organizations are warning about deepening poverty.
What needs to be done? I would suggest four things.
- To earn the trust of the international community, the Taliban should instantly change its stance on human rights. Since the Taliban are enforcing strict Islamic laws and regulations, this has proven to be quite challenging. As a result, immediate international pressure to lift sanctions on the Taliban is needed.
- In order to grant the Afghanistan Central Bank access to the global banking system and give it the necessary credentials, governments, the UN, the World Bank, and the Taliban should negotiate a deal.
- Donors and the Taliban should reach an agreement to pay wages for workers especially find a way to pay the female-headed families in the country.
- In the absence of any agreement, the UN and other major organizations should find an effective way to fund the country’s economy by other means available or which might be available through the private banking system in Afghanistan.