Afghans need UK and G20 to break down barriers to aid

In recent days, it has been heartbreaking to read reports that some families in Afghanistan are so desperate that they have been forced to marry their daughters to support themselves. food for their children.

It is impossible for many of us to imagine what these circumstances must look like. Sadly, this is the daily struggle of too many people in a country torn apart by violence, hunger and displaycement.

Since August, the girls have not been able to attend high school, trapped at home in limbo, unsure whether they will ever be able to return.

However, as Subrata De, Christian Aid Country Manager for Afghanistan, explained to me, it is almost impossible to manage humanitarian programs well without a functioning banking system.

For those in Afghanistan, the collapse of the banking system is the central problem. This made it extremely difficult to get money into the country or the salaries of the banks. It’s turning off the lights on how little hope there is.

This is why we urge G20 members, including the UK, to urgently lobby for action to be taken to identify safe and efficient payment channels so that funding can be quickly accessed to support consumers. humanitarian operations. Agreements are also needed to support the provision of foreign exchange.

This is an appeal supported by a coalition of seventeen international humanitarian organizations, including Save the Children, International Rescue Committee UK and the Agha Khan Foundation to name a few.

Like Christian Aid, many of these organizations have worked in Afghanistan for decades. We all know how to get help to get straight to those who need it most and we won’t stop now.

With the onset of winter, this intervention is more necessary than ever. We are already seeing people with no pay, and many resort to selling anything to pay for the cost of soaring food and fuel prices.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) also warned last week that more than half of the Afghan population – about 22.8 million people – face acute food insecurity, while 3.2 million children under five could suffer from acute malnutrition.

Despite the fragile Afghan economy dependent on foreign aid, it was the UK and other Western powers that froze international funds, including assets that Afghanistan could have accessed from the World Bank. and the International Monetary Fund. If the international community was able to act so quickly then, it can do it again now.

G20 leaders also have an obligation. After all, on October 12 it was the G20 that declared that all Afghans have the right to live in peace, dignity and security. These world leaders pledged to “expand and accelerate as much humanitarian assistance as possible”. We now need action, not words.

Bringing money into Afghanistan is not a Taliban issue, it is a matter of life and death. This is to provide food, basic medical supplies and medicine, shelter and water. It is about supporting services, deploying the Covid-19 vaccine and beating the pandemic. It is about protecting Afghan women, including human rights defenders and civil society actors who have been encouraged to take up leadership positions and who are now in grave danger.

When I think of the people in Afghanistan, I really worry about the harsh Afghan winter ahead. When families are so desperate they sell their children to buy the essentials, the rest of the world would be morally bankrupt if they did not act.

UK government funding is welcome, but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the scale of the need. Unless the UK government works with international partners to resolve the problem of bringing cash into Afghanistan through the banking system, all efforts to help the Afghan people will continue to be hampered.

Fionna Smyth, Advocacy and Policy Officer for Christian Aid.

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