US to give additional $308m in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan

Jan 12, 2022: According to a report by Al Jazeera, the United States will provide an additional $308 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, with the White House announcing that total US aid to Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in the region has reached $ 782 million since October.

White House spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement Tuesday that the aid would be provided through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to humanitarian organizations providing shelter, health care and emergency food aid.

In addition, the United States will provide an additional 1 million doses of the corona vaccine through the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Cooperative, COVAX, bringing its total aid to Afghanistan to 4.3 million doses. The move comes as the United Nations humanitarian agency said on Tuesday it needed about ً 5 billion in aid to Afghanistan in 2022. That includes  4.4 billion in aid inside Afghanistan, and  623 million to help millions of Afghans seeking refuge outside the country’s borders.

The United Nations says more than half of the population – about 22 million people – is facing severe hunger, while another 5.7 million displaced Afghans in five neighboring countries need significant assistance this year. “A complete humanitarian catastrophe is spreading. My message is urgent: do not close the door on the people of Afghanistan,” said Martin Griffiths, UN Humanitarian and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The economic crisis in Afghanistan escalated after the Taliban seized power in August, when the former Western-backed government collapsed and US troops withdrew. International aid to Afghanistan has been cut off and billions of dollars of the country’s financial assets have been frozen abroad, most of them in the United States.

In a White House statement Tuesday, Horne said the United States was “committed to supporting the Afghan people and we will continue to consider all options available to us.”

“We stand with the people of Afghanistan,” he added. USAID, meanwhile, called on the Taliban to “allow all aid workers, especially women, to work freely and safely” as humanitarian groups appear to be assisting those in need. The agency said in a statement that the United States had “unconditional humanitarian access to the Taliban, safe havens for humanitarians, free aid to all vulnerable people and freedom of movement for aid workers of all genders.”

The decision by the United States and the international community not to recognize the Taliban government has created a dilemma for Western powers over how to provide adequate aid without legitimizing the group or putting money directly into its hands. The Taliban has called on the international community to release funds and help prevent humanitarian catastrophe. State employees, from doctors to teachers and administrative government employees, have not been paid for months, while banks have limited the amount that account holders can withdraw.

Last month, the United States formally exempted US and UN officials doing authorized business with the Taliban in an effort to maintain the flow of aid to Afghanistan.

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