Following the withdrawal of NATO and US troops in August 2021, the Taliban took full control of Afghanistan. Subsequently, the bourgeois press and pro-imperialist intellectuals, who have been repeatedly crying ‘Danger to Democracy’ and ‘Taliban terrorism, Again!’, are now refusing to speak or just spreading the lie that the unprecedented food shortages and starvation deaths that Afghanistan is facing is because of the Taliban regime.
According to the UN, half of Afghan’s population, nearly 2.28 crore people, face acute food insecurity. Of these, 87 lakh people are projected to face emergency levels of food insecurity. Nearly 20 lakh children face severe acute malnutrition; of which 6 lakh children are in a serious condition.
It is heartrending to hear from the international activists that, by the end of this winter, nearly 10 lakh children are at risk of dying unless they receive immediate treatment for malnutrition. This is more than the death toll of the US orchestrated civil war in Afghanistan, which lasted for the past 20 years. The US is now responsible for today’s food shortage in Afghanistan.
After the US retreated its troops, it imposed sanctions on Afghanistan. The US has frozen $9 billion in assets that the Afghan government has in the US, belonging to the Afghan central bank “Da Afghanistan Bank” (DAB).
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While Afghanistan is unable to withdraw funds from its central bank, western countries like Germany, which exploit the third world countries on one hand and offer ‘financial help’ on the other, have also stopped funding Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have suspended payments to Afghanistan owing to the political pressure from the US. This worsened Afghanistan’s crises. As a result of this, hundreds of thousands of daily wagers and more than 2 lakh teachers and doctors have not been able to receive their salaries for months.
Prices have also skyrocketed, while people are struggling with the loss of jobs and loss of income. For the past four months, the food of many Afghans has been tea and bread. Meat, vegetables and fruits became out of reach for ordinary people. Some NGOs are distributing wheat flour and other food products. Because of higher prices of cooking oil and other groceries, some people were forced to eat only the wheat flour.
A malnourished Afghan child receiving treatment at a hospital in Kandahar.
Because of chronic malnutrition, majority of the children are stunted. The World Food Programme (WFP) along with other NGOs is trying to feed nutritious food to such children at health facilities. But this aid is being provided only in a very few places.
Afghan mothers who can’t provide nutritious food to their starved children, carry them to health facilities located hundreds of kilometres away, hoping that their children will survive if they are given nutritious flour.
Many, who cannot get this, have been forced to sell their homes and furniture. Even more horrific is the news that the plight of selling their daughters for marriage is taking place in a big way. The pain of the Afghan mothers who are desperate to sell even their baby girl to feed their other children in the family can’t be just explained with words.
The sale of human organs for money is also happening in large numbers. If we walk through the streets of Afghanistan, we can see banners hanging, which say ‘Kidney for sales!’.
Famine and hunger are rapidly rising in Afghanistan mainly because the Afghan economy is entirely dependent on foreign aid. Before the US forces left last August, the foreign aid that Afghanistan was receiving from the West was up to $8.5 billion.
In general, on an average, a country receives foreign aid of upto 10 percent of its GDP. However, about 40 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP is from foreign aid. Three quarters of the government’s budget was dependent on foreign donations.
On the other hand, 70 percent of the Afghan population depends on agriculture. People are exiting from agriculture because of drought, rising prices of agricultural inputs, inability to feed livestock and lack of proper irrigational facilities. As a result of this, wheat production this year will fall by 25 percent when compared to last year, the UN predicted.
It was on August 15 last year, the US troops started withdrawal from Afganistan. All the foreign aids to Afghanistan stopped as soon as the US troops left. Not only this, foreign exchange from Afghans who work abroad accounts for 4 percent of its GDP. But that too is now out of the way. International money-transfer firms like Western Union and Moneygram have suspended their services in Afghanistan.
The few remaining doctors and nurses try urgently to treat babies and malnoridhed children.
Although Afghanistan has suffered many famines before, US imperialism is responsible for the current famine and the starvation deaths of the Afghan people. The US occupies other countries to plunder various mineral resources and keep those countries under its control. It destroys even their remaining self-reliant economy and thus consolidate its dominance. The same thing happened in Afghanistan.
The newly formed Taliban have close ties with China. The US could not tolerate the Taliban, which was created by the US for its hegemonic obsession, going into the hands of China which challenge its global hegemony. Therefore the US stopped all its financial aids which it provided earlier to its puppet regime in Afghanistan. In addition, the US cries, “There is no democracy in Afghanistan”, “No human rights in Afghanistan” and at the same time enforced economic sanctions. The US has also pressured and blocked other international assistance to Afghanistan.
Human rights organisations from all over the world demanded that ‘we should separate politics and humanitarian work’ and we should help Afghanistan, which is in dire scarcity, and relax sanctions on Afghanistan. Only then the US moved to provide $280 million of donation fund of the World Food Programme and UNICEF, thinking that it would be held responsible for the death of Afghans in clusters. But this was only a fraction of the frozen $1.5 billion.
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This fund is not enough for Afghanistan, which is on a deathbed. The US super power is commiting genocide of the entire population of a country to establish its hegemony. The weapon of this war is hunger. Not only Afghanistan, but a large number of working people around the world are directly or indirectly suffering from the hegemonic rule of the imperialists in various forms.
The misery of hundreds of thousands of working people of Afghanistan cannot be overlooked. We, the working people, must carry out protests internationally demanding the lifting of US sanctions on Afghanistan and urge them to provide the Afghan people with basic necessities, including food, on a wartime basis.
Moreover, in order to permanently bring down the American super power, which consistently victimise other countries for its hegemonic intentions, working people all over the world must rally together to express their solidarity on all issues.
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