Open Heart & Doors for Afghan People
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 25 Jun , 2022

“India stands by the people of Afghanistan in their difficult times and is ready to provide all possible disaster relief material at the earliest”, tweeted, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

Afghanistan Ambassador to India, Farid Mamundzay, said in an interview with Bloomberg, “The country is going through deep humanitarian crisis, India’s help is needed and India has been the largest regional donor to Afghanistan in the past 2 decades. India has been helping Afghan people as they are going through the darkest moments once in a generation. The help of India is critical”.

India has sent relief materials in the aftermath of the earthquake in Afghanistan this week. India has delivered 20,000 of wheat, 13 tons of medicines and 500,000 doses of Covid Vaccines.

It is absolutely necessary to stand with the Afghan people as the quake-hit country is facing crisis and acute challenges as the survivors struggle for food, shelter, and other medical aid.

The earthquake which hit Paktika province on June 22 is one of the worst affected earthquakes, in which around 1,000 people are believed to have been killed and 3,000 more injured.

The world needs to find a more cooperative path for the Afghans as they have reached new depths of despair in the oscillating pendulum of their hopes, dreams, lives, and livelihoods at the brink of this unprecedented challenge who have continued to face conflict and with the new Taliban regime spiraling hunger and poverty has put the population under severe risk of famine.

The political upheaval has created tremendous suffering consuming countless lives, millions displaced, malnutrition, drought, economic distraught, and much more of our attention.

At the same time, the Afghan population, especially those paying the heaviest price – women, and children, need humanitarian assistance.

The humanitarian crisis continues to deepen and plunge the Afghan population into sorrow. All these justify a massive response to address this crisis.

And yet despite this dark picture, there are many rays of hope and moments of hope.

A Present-day Dire Straits Situation of Afghans

The past ten months of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan remain asymmetric in contrast with huge violations of international humanitarian law and dire suffering, displacement of populations and unpredictability has been a norm in the lives of the Afghans adding to the woes of the recent earthquake crisis.

And it is to be brought to the international community’s attention that the Taliban-led-Government’s contradictions and their different set of perspectives for inclusivity had never been accepted- a truth that never relieves them from their suffering and helps them build a better future. The tandem of crisis piling up on the poor citizens of Afghanistan and putting them in danger demands pursuing efforts, efficiencies, and essential work from the Taliban which has proved futile and illegitimate as the world is witnessing exodus displacements, hunger, food insecurity,  skewed economy and no infrastructure for the development of Afghan people.

The suffering of the Afghans in all its dimensions has seen escalating and deepening impacts- the Taliban who took to power in August last year to deliver solutions have failed to do so far.

As a result, the death of hunger is more severe than over 40 years of conflict. Women and children comprised nearly half of all civilian casualties. As reported, excruciating experiences of the families reflect their pain to feed their children and seeing death helplessly.

An updated Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis shows that in the first quarter of 2022, a staggering 23 million people, or 55 percent of the population, were expected to be in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity.

An article in The Lancet published in June 2020 noted that ‘Afghanistan had only 172 hospitals and four doctors per 10 000 people, according to a 2019 government report. Around a third of the 37 million population have no access to a functional health center within 2 hours of their home, says the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.Three-quarters of Afghanistan’s population had plunged into acute poverty, with 4.7 million Afghans likely to suffer severe malnutrition this year, according to the United Nations.

As to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the healthcare system, which was already fragile and heavily reliant on foreign aid, had been left under additional strain,’ noting the ‘massive’ humanitarian needs on the ground.

What is the Taliban doing now?

Afghanistan’s mining sector is endowed with rich minerals and approximately 75 percent of the mining activities are owned by the individuals at the moment.

According to the International Energy Agency, along with rare earth elements, copper, cobalt, and other minerals in which Afghanistan is naturally rich. These minerals are concentrated in a small number of pockets around the globe, so the clean energy transition has the potential to yield a substantial payday for Afghanistan.

Apart from illicit 84 percent of global opium production and as per the United Nations report, Afghanistan’s opium production crossed the 6,000-ton last year, the Taliban generates its revenue privately which amounts to $464 million per year. This whooping source of income is generated through the mining of iron ore, and controls over copper, gold, zinc, and lithium, and other rare-earth minerals, which are not state-owned but privately owned, and ultimately the revenue earned does not cater to the country or for the people.

In line with the country’s economic improvement agenda, the Taliban through coordination and coherence mandate can generate revenue through country’s resources that will help to build the economy stronger rather than owing it individually.

What needs to be done?

The first and foremost step for the Taliban is to align the administrative function on an inclusive development track that has to be recognized by the international community. It is that development is an important element in the prevention of both political and handling the catastrophic crisis especially if it is inclusive and sustainable.

The Taliban need to address the fragility of states and support the people, institutions, and civil societies, to become stronger and more resilient that will help diminish the tendency for Afghanistan to emerge from aid to self-reliance.

Looking at the trend of Afghanistan’s crisis, it is pivotal to mention the linkages of the crisis of Afghanistan is with the non-existence of inclusiveness by not representing people by not strengthening the institution of democracy. The Taliban need to garner the recognition of not only international community but also of their citizens, by doing so they will take the country to the path of progress which is needed the most at the moment as the Afghans go on a dire straits situation.

The Taliban have to have a Loya Jirga in which all the military commanders of the provinces will have to be called and they will have to attend and this Loya Jirga must impress on these people that they need to develop administrative mechanisms to tackle any crisis and eliminate poverty which had already existed. They must prepare effective guidelines for capacity building to run the administration. It is one of the ways because the Loya Jirga, represents the people.

The present Taliban Government needs to develop ambitious plans to enhance trade that will uptick the country’s economy for the development- transforming from ‘aid to trade’.

Role of the International Community

The Role of the international community is to oversee the humanitarian assistance under their supervision and aid to be distributed to the Afghan people through proper channels.

The Taliban should be guided by the inclusive principle of Afghan people’s participation and importantly, international engagement with the Taliban should put human rights at the heart of their priority to fulfill the aspirations of the Afghan people.

The International community needs to exert pressure on the Taliban to respond to the urgent requirements of their country’s people to uphold human rights at the center of their duties.

The international community needs to play a far bigger role in sharing their responsibility to bring a political solution for peace, development, and prosperity for the Afghan people.

Importantly, the UN must play an effective and productive role to hold the Taliban responsible for the human rights violations and make human rights the top agenda for the international community’s engagement with the Taliban.

Unfortunately Europe, Britain and US are so engrossed in the war in Ukraine that the ‘rest of the world’s problems are not their problems’ (as S Jaishankar, India’s Foreign Minister said). Thus a great deal of responsibility rests on India to provide humanitarian aid to Afghan people in such a dire situation.

Supporting Afghan People

The emerging photos of quake-hit areas display heart-wrenching plights. Everything dusted to the ground beneath the rubbles which was already rattled with poverty, instability, famine, and hunger.

The international community must come together in this extraordinary time to support the Afghans. By collaborating and coordinating humanitarian and development actions urgently needed, if perfectly integrated, would help in building the resilience of the Afghan people and for their future development.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Neelapu Shanti

is a New Delhi based International Affairs, Researcher, Writer, Journalist and an Indo-Afghan Analyst. MA in International Relations and Post Graduate in Journalism.

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