On Tuesday, the U.S. announced that it would be giving $308 million in “humanitarian aid” to Afghanistan. This is in addition to the $474 million the U.S. provided to the region in October.
The aid from the United States is part of an international effort by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations to support the Afghan people, who are facing drought, hunger, economic collapse, and the pandemic under Taliban rule.
On the same day, the United Nations and humanitarian partner groups launched an appeal for $4.4 billion in aid as an “essential stopgap” measure to ease the suffering of the Afghan people.
The Biden administration will also be sending one million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the country, bringing the total doses donated to Afghanistan by the U.S. so far to 4.3 million.
Independent humanitarian organizations will administer the needed aid to the Afghan people. The funds will be used for emergency food, water, sanitation, and essential health care, said Emily Horne, spokesperson for the National Security Council.
“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people and we continue to consider all options available to us. We stand with the people of Afghanistan,” said Horne.
In August 2021, after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, international sanctions against the new Taliban government cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in international funding to the country. This has caused Afghanistan’s economy to spiral downward, which has led to the government being unable to pay salaries at a time when food prices are surging.
Last month, the United Nations’ World Food Programme warned that 22.8 million people, more than half of the population, face food insecurity, especially as temperatures fall below freezing.
Contributing to the hunger problem across the country is the drought the nation is facing. Around 70% of Afghanistan’s population live in rural areas, and 85% get their income from agriculture. The drought has impacted local farming and has had a snowball effect on the entire country.
“People are selling their assets or burning furniture to keep warm,” said Eloi Fillion, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Afghanistan. “Pressure is mounting on every family.”