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Red Cross advocates resumption of aid to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan

In order to alleviate a ‘unbearable’ humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the Red Cross on Monday pleaded with states and donors to put aside their political objections to the Taliban and resume aid disbursements to the country’s official institutions.


As the nation struggles with mounting poverty, drought, and starvation that have left over half of its population of nearly 40 million depending on humanitarian help to survive, the hardline Islamist Taliban celebrated their year anniversary in power on Monday with modest celebrations.


In response to the Taliban takeover, donors abruptly stopped providing funding out of concern for the new rulers’ adherence to women’s rights and a desire to avoid violating sanctions. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is one of those actors still supplying aid.


However, Robert Mardini, director-general of the ICRC, told Reuters that this cut-off was not viable.


A country with 40 million people cannot be replaced by humanitarian organisations alone, he claimed. ‘Our main message is basically to persuade states and development organisations to return to Afghanistan and keep supporting Afghans who are already experiencing an intolerable situation right now,’


The ICRC is helping to keep 33 hospitals open by paying staff salaries, supplying ambulance gasoline, and putting food on patients’ trays in order to close the financing gap.


According to Mardini, the country’s economic condition is so dire that many urban inhabitants are turning to begging in bread lines and street sales of personal property in order to live.


He said that a return to conflict after a time of relative stability following the departure of U.S.-led foreign forces was conceivable if donors do not heed the demand to resume aid.


According to the ICRC’s experience, this is a prescription for failure, for increased friction between communities, and for further conflict.


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