10/21/2021, 16.05
AFGHANISTAN
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People are dying of hunger and cold in Kabul’s DP camps

Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis is getting worse. Hospitals are collapsing without humanitarian aid. Public servants have not been paid for months. Diplomatic activity seems to be leading nowhere.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In Kabul five children have died in recent days from cold and hunger in camps set up for internally displaced people. Their families had fled the provinces to escape reprisals from the Taliban before the latter seized the capital.

The camps lack healthcare facilities, and some newly-born infants were left without clothes for hours.

Without international aid, hospitals are collapsing. “[O]ur capacity to pay for salaries and supplies has been greatly affected by the economic situation,” said Atiqullah Kariq, head of the Dasht-e-Barchi State Hospital in Kabul.

“We used to deliver 70 babies a day, but now we are down to less than 15. We used to have more than 100 midwives; now we have six. We are trying our best, but without more international help, we cannot recover.”

About US$ 9 billion of Afghan central bank reserves are in US banks, making it impossible to pay civil servants' salaries.

In Herat, hundreds of teachers joined in protest because they have not been paid in four months. People can't pay their bills, and teachers complain that they don't have the money and the means to take their children to the doctor.

“They earn money for living via selling home appliances and now they don’t have anything to sell,” said Mohammad Sabir Mashal, head of the teachers' association

Before the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, 75 per cent of Afghanistan’s budget came from international aid.

Complicating matters, Afghanistan’s neighbours have closed their doors to Afghan asylum seekers.

The Taliban government has said that in less than a month it will start issuing passports again, but in the meantime the suffering of those stuck in Afghanistan is increasing.

Human Rights Watch has called on the United Nations and other international agencies to increase support for Afghans who have fled or want to flee the country.

Those who have already fled to the West need "safe and durable solutions", while those who are still in the country but want to get out need an “orderly departure program”.

Against this background, the Taliban attended an international conference held yesterday in Moscow, with representatives from Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran and the five Central Asian countries.

In the final statement, participants urged the United Nations to act in order to avoid a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions, especially now that winter is setting in “with the understanding, of course, that the main burden … should be borne by the forces whose military contingents have been present in this country over the past 20 years”. A clear reference to the United States.

For their part, the Taliban continue to reassure the world that they are able to run the country.

In fact, they have been unable to keep the Islamic State group at bay. Over the past few weeks, the latter has carried out series of attacks, including in Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold.

Russia and the other countries in the region want to avoid instability and infiltration by "Islamic extremists" (Islamic State and al-Qaeda), but remain reluctant to recognise the Emirate regime.

Yet, for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, “A new administration is in power now,” and this must be acknowledged.

At the same time, he urged the Taliban to have a more inclusive government, open to the country’s different ethnic groups.

So far this has proven elusive since the Taliban show no sign that they are ready to make concessions.

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