News Release

As Afghans Face Starvation, U.S. and UN Sanctions Tighten the Screws


+++InterAction, a group of NGOs whose members include the Red Cross, has just released a statement pleading for sanctions relief for Afghanistan: “Afghanistan stands at a precipice. Nearly 23 million people face acute food insecurity, with 8.7 million just one step away from famine, including 1 million children on the brink of starvation. … In August of this year, the Security Council passed a resolution calling for ‘strengthened efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan,’ and the support of ‘all donors and international humanitarian actors to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.’ Yet, four months on, the people of Afghanistan are still waiting for this assistance to materialize.

“Without a clear humanitarian exception, UN sanctions will remain an obstacle to the major humanitarian scale-up that the Afghan people need right now. Humanitarian actors need legal clarity to operate. The Afghan winter has already set in. The Security Council must not wait a minute longer to facilitate humanitarian action and to enable us to reach all people in need in Afghanistan. We must spare no effort to save lives.” (Emphasis in original.)
The media watch group FAIR notes: “Media Forget Afghan Plight as U.S. Sanctions Drive Mass Famine Risk.” They say: “After withdrawal, the U.S. froze some $9 billion of the country’s central bank reserves, and U.S. and UN sanctions cut off the central bank from the international banking system and drastically limited the aid flowing into the country (UNDP, 12/2/21).”

+++Bita is a long-time civil society activist in Afghanistan. He is now in Vancouver, Canada after leaving Kabul when the Taliban took over. He said today: “Afghanistan is now beyond imagination, worse than ever, worse than the civil war. Of course, there are so many people who deserve to be out of the country, especially women and girls, and not under the Taliban. But it’s even worse. Drinkable water and electricity are now scarce and unemployment is skyrocketing. The banking system is basically shut down. The biggest cause for all this is the U.S. government’s actions — freezing funds and sanctions. It’s the regular people who are paying the price. The U.S. government says it’s trying to hurt the Taliban, but this is propaganda. The Taliban will make money from drugs, or get funds from the outside. It’s regular people who are paying the price for U.S. policy.”