By: Susan Azizi
Afghanistan is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, threatening every Afghan’s economy, health, safety, security, and well-being. Even before the Taliban’s takeover on August 15th, 2021, Afghanistan was one of the world’s complex humanitarian emergencies due to prolonged insecurity, poverty, drought, and natural disasters. A year after the Taliban, the crisis has grown into a major threat that endangers every Afghan’s life.
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), “by the middle of 2022, Afghanistan could face universal poverty, with 97% of Afghans living below the World Bank-designated international poverty line of $1.90 a day. The crises have the most devastating effects on women and children.
A 15-year-old Ahmad works on the streets as a carter to earn money. He says, “Before the Taliban took over, I was attending school. Now I have left school since our economic situation got worse”. He was in tenth grade at that time. He says that now he must work from early morning until late night to be able to earn money. His father is also a carter. He says he earns about 100-150 AFN per day and his father earns 80-100 AFN. “I must pay for the house rent and my father pays for the other expenses,” says Ahmad.
Shukria, 23, shared her experience of one year under the Taliban’s regime. Shukria used to work with one of the USAID projects before the Taliban rose to power. She hasn’t been evacuated because she is not eligible for the Special Immigrant Visa, an immigration program applicable to those who used to work with internationally funded projects for one year or more. Shukria is the only breadwinner in her family. Years ago, she lost her father. Her mother is a housewife and sometimes, if she receives orders, she tailors clothes and sells them in the market. Now, she says, “There are no orders, and my mother also lost her only source of income.”
Shukria is continuing her remaining education at one of the universities in Kabul and is not able to work. She says, “Before the Taliban, I was going to work during the day and attending university in the evening, but with the new rule of the Taliban, girls are not allowed to attend universities in the evening”. She says that her uncle who is living in Europe sometimes sends them money to cover their house rent and buy some food. They are living from hand to mouth.
According to Sultana Khaknizhad, a human rights activist and legal expert, “the situation in Afghanistan remains uncertain and dire. The crisis threatens most of the people in Afghanistan. With the new rule of the Taliban the economy has collapsed”.
“The US hasn’t yet unfrozen the Afghan asset reserves since they are afraid that the money might go to support terrorism by the Taliban. It is the common citizens who are directly affected by the crisis.” Khaknizhad adds, “it is known to the whole world and all Afghans that Afghanistan is a country where there is no social, political, economic, or cultural prosperity”. Afghans neither have any infrastructure nor good management of even available resources. “Politically, there has always been corruption to a large extent. Political inequality and power exclusivity have always existed in the country.”
According to Khaknizhad, the core of a healthy society is men and women both equally enjoying their rights and positively contributing to their country’s development. Also, children are the future-makers of a country and thus shouldn’t be neglected. “However, these two groups, women and children are completely ignored, unheard and unseen. Afghanistan has always been a patriarchal society. This patriarchy causes huge maltreatment of women and children, especially under the rule of the Taliban. The Taliban are not allowing women to work outside of the home or go to school. The Taliban also dictate what must the women wear. Food, shelter, clothing, education, and the right to work, which are basic human rights, are taken from the women and children of Afghanistan. “Afghanistan is a country where children worry about their next meal,” says Khaknizhad.
Khaknizhad calls on the international community to not forget the people of Afghanistan. “The international community shouldn’t just give slogans; they should put their words into action. They should come and see that no single Afghan is living a good life. The right to live has been taken from them. Life is not just to eat and sleep and now they don’t even have anything to eat. Every human being has the right to a prosperous life”.
Currently, there is a huge humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Children are starving to death. Almost all people, 97% of the population live below the poverty line. The future of Afghan women and children remains unknown. The school for girls has remained closed for over a year now. Afghans are fighting for their basic rights. The international community must do something to address these emergencies.
About the author: Susan Azizi is a student at the American University of Central Asia majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Photo Credit: Global Times
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