The aid will come as more than half of Afghanistan’s 40 million people are projected to face an “acute” food crisis this winter, according to a recent report from the U.N. World Food Program and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The organizations warned that many Afghans were facing levels of food insecurity just shy of “famine” conditions and that the situation was likely to worsen.
“Reduced incomes, lower international and domestic remittances and continuing obstacles to humanitarian assistance (many related to the financial crisis and limited physical access during the winter period) are expected to contribute to the deterioration of food security,” the report stated.
As The Washington Post’s Maite Fernández Simon reported, those problems began before the Taliban took over the country in August, with ongoing conflict displacing some 665,000 people and a prolonged drought that has hurt farmers.
The collapse of Afghanistan’s public services and economy intensified after the country fell to the Taliban, when hundreds of thousands of Afghans and other residents tried to flee. The last U.S. troops departed Afghanistan on Aug. 30, ending the nearly 20-year war there that was launched as a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Horne noted that U.S. aid would “flow through independent humanitarian organizations who provide support directly to more than 18.4 million vulnerable Afghans in the region, including Afghan refugees in neighboring countries.”
Some of the services those organizations provide include shelter, health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation and hygiene, her statement added.
“To be clear, this humanitarian assistance will benefit the people of Afghanistan and not the Taliban, whom we will continue to hold accountable for the commitments they have made,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Thursday.
Last month, a U.N. donor conference for Afghanistan raised more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid for the country, also to be distributed through the United Nations and other nongovernmental partner organizations. The United States at the time pledged $64 million, bringing its total for the fiscal year to $330 million.
U.N. officials at the conference urged the international community to grant the people of Afghanistan a “lifeline” in “their most perilous hour.”
“The international community must find ways to make cash available to allow the Afghan economy to breathe,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said then. “A total collapse would have devastating consequences to the people and risk to destabilize the neighboring countries with a massive outflow [of people].”