The United States on Tuesday announced $308 million in additional humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. The new aid comes as the country faces a possible humanitarian crisis following the Taliban militant group’s takeover of the government nearly five months ago.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement the new aid comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). But it will be provided through independent humanitarian organizations. She said aid will be used to provide shelter, health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water and sanitization services.
Afghanistan’s troubled economy has become weaker since the Taliban takeover. Nearly 80 percent of Afghanistan’s former government’s budget came from the international community. Foreign countries provided most of the money for hospitals, schools, factories and government ministries. The USAID called on the Taliban to permit “all aid workers, especially women...to operate independently and securely” as humanitarian groups assist people in need.
Separately, the United Nations on Tuesday released its 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan. The plan said the country requires $4.4 billion in aid money. That is the largest humanitarian appeal ever launched for a country. The U.N. says 22 percent of Afghanistan’s 38 million people are living near famine. Another 36 percent are facing severe food insecurity.
The new money promised by the administration of President Joe Biden increases U.S. aid for Afghanistan to more than $780 million. That is the total since the end of the 20-year-old war in August.
The U.S. has also promised to send Afghanistan 1 million additional COVID-19 vaccines through the U.N.’s COVAX program. COVAX is an effort by the World Health Organization to improve the availability of vaccines. With the new shipment, the U.S. will have sent 4.3 million shots to Afghanistan.
International aid to Afghanistan was suspended after the Taliban took control last August. Billions of dollars of the country’s foreign assets were also frozen.
The U.S. and the international community decided not to recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan. The decision has led to questions about how to provide aid to the country without putting money directly into the Taliban’s hands.
The lack of money has led to increased poverty. Aid groups have warned of a possible humanitarian catastrophe. State employees, including doctors, teachers and civil servants, have not been paid in months. Banks in Afghanistan have restricted how much money people can take out.
The Taliban have called on the international community to release money and help prevent a humanitarian disaster.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
The Associated Press reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
winterize –v. to make a structure ready for winter especially by making it resistant to winter weather
sanitization –n. the process of keeping places free from dirt, infection, disease, etc., by removing waste, trash and garbage, by cleaning streets
famine –n. a situation when many people do not have enough to eat
assets –n.(pl.) things of value
catastrophe –n. a terrible disaster