Afghanistan humanitarian crisis

August 30, 2022
A photo of children playing in Afghanistan.

The consequences of inaction on both the humanitarian and development fronts will be catastrophic and difficult to reverse.

U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths on the state of Afghanistan, warning that millions of people are at risk of famine.

Why It Matters: The United Nations warns the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan continues to worsen, with more than half of the nation's population of 40 million needing assistance of some kind, and nearly half facing food insecurity (hunger).

  • The U.N. expressed heightened concern before the cold winter months — a problem compounded by a lack of functioning government (i.e. stable financial system). As the Taliban have taken over Afghanistan, they have struggled to set up basic resources for the country, which is diverse in both geography and culture.
  • Historical context: During the Taliban's last rise to power, al Qaeda provided the Taliban with money and resources when others did not, and found a safe haven in the country to plan and launch the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the question remains whether this pattern could repeat.

Here's a snapshot of the arguments happening in the United Nations about what to do next and who should help pay:

“No country that is serious about containing terrorism in Afghanistan would advocate to give the Taliban instantaneous, unconditional access to billions in assets that belong to the Afghan people.” –U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

“We are being asked to pay for the reconstruction of a country whose economy was essentially destroyed by 20 years of U.S. and NATO occupation? You are the ones who need to pay for your mistakes. But first of all, you need to return to the Afghan people the money that has been stolen from them. Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, referencing the $7 billion in Afghan assets frozen by the United States. Pres. Biden wants to keep half of those funds for the families of 9/11 victims and give the other half to the U.N. for Afghanistan's humanitarian needs. The U.S. faces criticism for its handling of Afghanistan but remains the world's leading donor to the country (Associated Press).

UN warns 6 million Afghans at risk of famine as crises grow

by Jenna Lee,