Afghanistan – A Disaster Area

In this season of goodwill, let is give some thought to the plight of Afghanistan. This is what was reported on “The Hill”: “The economic contraction triggered by the Taliban takeover is unprecedented. A projected 30 percent loss of its gross domestic product could occur within a year. The economy is imploding and there is no cash left for people’s everyday transactions.

Afghanistan is a country historically shored up by external aid. It is now untethered as international political positions have hardened against the new de-facto rulers in Kabul and previous channels of support have been shut down. Salaries of key public sector workers — doctors, nurses and teachers — have not been paid in months. Health facilities have no means to pay for fuel to run generators or ambulances. Basic service delivery is at risk of collapse, and the people who depend on these services are the unintended victims.

Without bolder international support to maintain the indispensable social functions of the state, it will not be possible to prevent death in Afghanistan this winter. Already starved by the worst drought in 20 years, two-thirds of the population will depend on food assistance in 2022, the World Food Program estimates. Children will succumb to high levels of malnutrition, first dying from preventable diseases, then from outright starvation. With no health clinics to go to, more women will die giving birth. Families will face freezing winter temperatures without electricity or clean water”.

In fact Afghanistan has only been kept solvent by foreign aid for many years. For good Christmas reading I recommend a book entitled “The Places in Between” by Rory Stewart (photo above). It describes his walk across the country in 2002 soon after the Taliban were ousted from power by the US invasion. He walked the distance from Herat to Kabul in mid-winter, often alone although he did pick up a dog as a companion on the way.

He was told many times that it was unwise to do so but he gives a graphic description of life in the villages and towns he passed through and the people he met. Altogether a book that gives a good description of the country and its people – in essence a great “travel” book for the winter days. It will make you feel happy that you are snug at home in England and all our minor difficulties can soon be forgotten.  

Roger Lawson (Twitter:  )

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