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West must help Afghanistan despite Taliban misrule, says aid agency

15 August 2022


A former police officer, aged 45, now works as a domestic cleaner in Kabul, Afghanistan, after the Taliban halted her career

A former police officer, aged 45, now works as a domestic cleaner in Kabul, Afghanistan, after the Taliban halted her career

THE Afghan people cannot be abandoned to their fate, Christian Aid has said — one year after the Taliban overthrew the elected government (News, 20 August 2021).

The international development charity said on the anniversary on Monday that the next UK Prime Minister must do more than “drift and delay” to prevent the current situation in Afghanistan turning into a humanitarian disaster — a crisis which it said had been exacerbated by soaring food and fuel prices from the war in Ukraine.

On 15 August 2021, the Taliban announced the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, ending 20 years of foreign “occupation” since the US and UK responded to the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001. Taliban forces marched into Kabul after President Biden withdrew US personnel.

The events caused chaos as foreign nationals and Afghans who had worked for them attempted to escape, fearing reprisals.

In the first year of Taliban rule, women have been shown to be particularly vulnerable under the regime (News, 8 April). Christian Aid spoke to Quasi, a widow with seven children who lives in Kabul. Her husband was killed by a suicide-bomber last year. She is unable to go to the market without a male chaperone, since Taliban decrees limit a woman’s movements. She said: “We don’t have money to buy food every day. I and my children survive only with the little food aid that the village representative provides us.”

Bibi, a 39-year-old widowed mother used to support her family by selling dairy products from her cow, but had to sell it to pay debts after her husband was shot dead by the Taliban. “I hope my children will have a brighter future and become educated. For myself, I would like to learn a new vocation so that I can work.”

The head of global advocacy and policy at Christian Aid, Fionna Smyth, said: “We have no illusions about the Taliban rulers, but the Afghan people cannot be abandoned to their fate. They did not vote for the Taliban and, even if the Taliban control the country, that must not stop us trying to help people make a living, and giving them hope for a future free form hunger.”

The charity is continuing its campaign for the Government to restore the foreign aid budget to 0.7 per cent of GDP. It is also calling for donors to give more to the UN humanitarian appeal for the country, which is set at $4.4 billion, and for the restoration of the Afghan central bank “so that money can be printed and circulated for the economy to function properly and reach those most in need”.

Ms Smyth concluded: “The UK Government, alongside its international allies, need to do far more to support the economy to get back on its feet and advocate for the rights of women and girls who are being erased from public life.”

Release International reported on Monday that the Church in Afghanistan showed signs of growth “despite — or because — of violent persecution” against Christians in the country.

The anti-persecution charity is partnered with the TV company SAT-7 and its channels. One Christian viewer reported: “The security situation for someone like me who has accepted another faith is extremely concerning.” Another viewer was concerned about the Christian content on their personal mobile: “‘Fear and dread have taken all of Afghanistan and have especially affected religious and ethnic minorities. At checkpoints, peoples’ mobile phones are checked.”

The president of Square One World Media, Shoaib Ebadi, told another Release International partner that younger Afghans were disillusioned. “They are questioning everything: their own faith, their past, their present, their future. And all of them have mobile phones. . . The growth of the Church in Afghanistan is ten times faster than in Iran.”

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