Afghanistan crisis continues, American aid crucial

Humza Kahn and Sufyaan Syed, guest columnists

Shortly after the C-17s left the airstrip, attention swung to other issues. The end to America’s longest war had come and gone. Yet, the struggles of the people of Afghanistan are not over.

In the span of a few months, the lives of 39 million people rapidly changed as the West’s withdrawal ended many of the Afghan people’s links to the rest of the world.

Even as news outlets turn away from the crisis in Afghanistan, it is imperative that we don’t do the same. Thoroughly understanding the situation is critical to aiding the Afghani people.

First, some background: Afghanistan is undergoing a severe economic crisis caused by numerous interlinked factors. Decades of slow growth combined with a collapsing security structure have resulted in millions of people falling into poverty, and the country’s GDP has already begun to slide.

A trifecta of suffering has descended on the country, with Covid-19, drought, and sharply decreasing aid hammering the country. Severe drought has ravaged agricultural production, pushing millions into starvation. With imports being restricted and banks slipping into liquidity crises, the rapid withdrawal of financial support has only made the situation worse.

A third wave of Covid-19 is ravaging a population that, according to the World Bank and Our World in Data, is less than 5-percent vaccinated. Inoculation has come to a halt due to the interruption of aid.

To make matters worse, with the end of economic growth comes an end to the limited democratization and rights that the previous government had attempted to establish.

What little free speech and expression existed previously has now been stamped out, bringing an end to a burgeoning civil society. The rollback of liberties has resulted in the suppression of the middle class and professionals, with many expressing deep apprehension and fear about their future.

However, the worst tragedy has fallen upon Afghani women. The Human Rights Watch estimates that roughly 80 percent of the 700,000 recent internal displacements have been women and children. The ban on women attending schools or serving in government has affected millions and will stifle generations of women from achieving equality. Numerous other rollbacks of rights in this area have been reported, from retaliation against women who participated in protests to bans on women playing sports. 

On the humanitarian end, the crisis is just as bleak. Save the Children reports that as costs have skyrocketed, in Kabul, gas prices have increased by 63 percent and food prices have risen 30-40 percent; other cities have reported similar increases. Furthermore, a survey from Save the Children on 630 families found that every single one had taken on debt to purchase essentials.

On the educational front, the Human Rights Watch reported that 85 percent of the state school system, which educated roughly 7 million students, almost 3 million of which were girls, was funded by foreign donors who are now hesitant to send money. Similarly, the health sector was almost completely funded by the World Bank, which has paused relations with the Taliban. 

In all facets of daily living, the Afghani people face hardship. Food, gas, health, and education are all in peril as prices rise and aid stops flowing in.

While the situation is bleak, South students can make a tangible difference. A simple donation to charities such as Islamic Relief USA and Save the Children goes a long way towards feeding an Afghani family, whether they be refugees or in Afghanistan. 

Even if you cannot donate, taking the time to learn more about Afghanistan is a great first step. 

Learning about Afghani people beyond stereotypes and sensationalist headlines can challenge the hurdles in the way of support.

With the Taliban’s corrupt, hardline past of warding off foreign donors, and media shifting their focus elsewhere, the people of Afghanistan are left with no alternatives. They must face hunger, disease, poverty, and oppression. 

The people of America have an obligation to do our part. We will either choose to act or stay silent. 

There is only one right decision.