Ignoring Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Crisis

Ignoring Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Crisis

The media has chosen not to dwell on the reality of how disastrous the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan has been for the people of that desperate nation.

By choosing not to leave a residual force behind at the near-impenetrable Bagram Air Force Base, the Biden Administration inadvertently guaranteed a Taliban victory, in much the same way then-Vice President Biden, the point man for the Middle East region for the Obama Administration, ensured an ISIS victory by withdrawing all U.S. forces from Iraq.

This was not just one side taking over for another in a nation suffering a harsh internal war.  This was a whole-scale abandonment of a segment of the population clearly marked for oppression.

In April of 2021, Biden inexplicably decided to perform an unconditional withdrawal, which contradicted the conditions of Trump’s Doha deal.

He ignored the need for Afghan women and girls to retain basic human rights, and for the population in general to have access and to a functioning economy.

The Brookings Institute argues that “An aggressive attempt at diplomacy would possibly have spilled over past the summer, and the Taliban may have begun to attack U.S. troops. But that scenario was manageable: It would likely have meant going back to a pre-February 2020 level of warfare, in which U.S. troops sustained very low levels of casualties over the last few years. A more considered withdrawal would also have meant giving the Afghan security forces more cover as we eventually withdrew — taking intelligence and air support away step by step, and empowering them in the process, rather than pulling the rug from under them.”

A new United Nations report has disclosed that “The future is immensely bleak for Afghans if more is not done by the international community to ensure the Taliban changes its modus operandi and complies with its human rights obligations…The humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan, which has already caused immeasurable harm to millions, shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it is predicted to worsen…”

According to the international body, the Taliban has committed a “plethora” of human rights violations, with the “virtual erasure” of women and girls from society, as well as their systematic oppression, being particularly egregious.  “Nowhere else in the world has there been as wide-spread, systematic and all-encompassing an attack on the rights of women and girls – every aspect of their lives is being restricted under the guise of morality and through the instrumentalization of religion. Discrimination and violence cannot be justified on any ground”.

The U.N. Mission in Afghanistan expressed concern about the impunity with which members of the de facto authorities appear to have carried out human rights violations. According to the report, those worst affected, were those linked to the former government and its security forces, with 160 extrajudicial killings confirmed, as well as 178 arbitrary arrests and detentions, and 56 instances of torture. “The human rights situation has been exacerbated by a nationwide economic, financial and humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scale. At least 59 per cent of the population is now in need of humanitarian assistance – an increase of six million people compared with the beginning of 2021.”

Actual starvation is a very real danger.  Human Rights Watch found that “Acute malnutrition is entrenched across Afghanistan, even though food and basic supplies are available in markets throughout the country. An Afghan humanitarian official told Human Rights Watch in mid-July, “People have nothing to eat. You may not imagine it, but children are starving…. The situation is dire…”

Despite the lack of coverage in western media, this crisis will not go unnoticed, particularly in the coming months as starvation takes its toll and the effects on women and girls deprived of education and even medical care becomes more blatant.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government

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