Biden's humanitarian crisis hitting Afghanistan hard
Almost two months after Joe Biden's disastrously botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, that country is in unfathomable peril on multiple fronts.
There was a terror attack on Kabul airport that killed at least 170 and injured over 200. Taliban fighters have been patrolling with AK-47 Kalashnikov rifles. The Taliban beheaded an Afghan interpreter for the U.S. Army. The Taliban has conducted public hangings.
The Taliban has persecuted minority groups. There has been a surge in Islamic State attacks on Shia minorities. The Taliban has prevented women from going to work while female students haven't been allowed to go to school.
Thus, Afghanistan is more unstable than an overturned beehive.
This has been covered more than adequately by international media organizations such as the BBC. The nature of extremism and violence creates instant shock in the mind of the consumer, which makes it compelling and engaging.
However, what gets scarce coverage is the effects that the Taliban takeover has had on the Afghan economy.
The Afghan economy has always been heavily dependent on foreign aid. Following the suspension of aid from various countries and the halting of funds from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the economy has collapsed. Banks that were closed after the Taliban takeover may have reopened, but there is very little cash available.
With no cash in the market, there is a sharp rise in the prices of day-to-day necessities. The price of food for items such as a loaf of bread has skyrocketed and has pushed it beyond buying capacity of regular Afghans.
Waiting for U.S. food aid to be distributed (YouTube screen grab).
People are left with no option but to sell their possessions, such as valuable carpets or TV sets or crockery and cutlery in the hope to exchange them for cash to feed themselves and their families. The situation is so desperate that there are numerous sellers but almost no buyers.
Many businesses have closed following their proprietors fleeing to other countries. Most salaried employees haven't been paid for months.
Many construction projects that were launched prior to the Taliban takeover have come to a grinding half owing to the lack of funds. Hence, only a handful of the construction workers get picked up for work, while the rest are left to fend for themselves.
Women who once worked and supported their families are no longer permitted to work by the new Taliban government, hence their families have no choice but to survive on the mercies of members of the Taliban government and neighbors.
The result is millions living in abject poverty — a serious problem of hunger that affects almost 23 million Afghans. The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 93% of Afghans are not getting enough food to eat, which includes the desperation of parents struggling to feed their children.
Few in the developing or developed world will comprehend the plight of going to bed on an empty stomach.
The United Nations has issued a stark warning — that millions will die if urgent aid does not reach the country soon. There have been heartbreaking stories of Afghan families compelled to sell their babies just to keep them alive. The hunger crisis has been further compounded by several other crises that have sprung simultaneously.
There have been water shortages and severe drought which is the country's second in just four years. The country's already fragile health system is on the brink of collapse since the Taliban takeover. There has also been a shortage of medicine amid reports that cold chain medical storage has been compromised.
The country is about to experience one of its harsh winters. With hundreds of Afghans living in open-air tents, this is likely to further devastate those already suffering from the food crisis.
The global community that understandably does not want to legitimize the Taliban who seized Afghanistan by force now faces a major dilemma. If people want to reach out to the Afghan people who are suffering, they have no option but to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government. Even if they do recognize the Taliban government, making sure that the aid provided actually reaches the intended people is a huge challenge. They also have to ensure that the aid is not misused for nefarious purposes such as terror training, the purchase of arms, or self-enrichment.
The U.S. mainstream media have chosen to look the other way for two reasons. The first is that they are occupied with attempting to spin or ignore the myriad crisis in the U.S. The second is the obvious reason that they do not want to carry any news that makes fellow Democrats Joe and Kamala look worse than they already do. Since the occurrences are in a foreign country very far away, they know that very few understand or are affected by these issues.
Now, nobody is suggesting that the U.S. should have had a permanent presence in Afghanistan. The withdrawal had to happen. The Afghans had to take charge of their country someday. The principle was right; however, as always, the implementation was bungled beyond imagination.
The result of Biden's hasty withdrawal is that the worst among Islamic terrorists have made Afghanistan their abode. Billions of dollars' worth of U.S. weaponry, including Black Hawks and Humvees, are in the custody of the Taliban. Regular Afghans continue to suffer from abject poverty and hunger.
What exacerbates this catastrophe is that the U.S. has spent almost $5.8 trillion and was present in Afghanistan for around 20 years.
The chaos in Afghanistan has had global implications: there is a distinct change of attitude in China toward Taiwan. The Chinese have openly made threats to annex Taiwan and have frequently invaded Taiwan's airspace.
Gen. Mark Milley and Gen. Frank McKenzie told Congress that they recommended keeping a force of 2,500 troops. Biden claims not to recall this advice. In the end, Biden and only Biden is responsible for this unmitigated disaster.
Do not believe the spinners.
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