The world’s current focus regarding refugees is on Ukraine and perhaps rightly so, given the enormous suffering people in that country are facing during a bloody conflict with Russia. While the world’s support for that nation remains strong, there are signs the world community’s support has waned for people from another country; Afghanistan.
Before Ukraine, much of the world’s focus was on the heartbreaking conditions in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. troops after two decades of conflict — and the successive government that took over.
As often happens when there are consecutive similar crises, the most recent ones tend to overshadow the ones that preceded it. It’s understandable, given the relentless pace of our news cycle. However, attention fatigue doesn’t solve the ongoing problems the people of Afghanistan (and its refugees) face on a regular basis.
Because of the new government, donor countries that had been responsible for much of the funding of Afghanistan’s economy and services have expressed hesitation in continuing their financial support. In April (cite Wpost article), it was reported that only 13 percent of the United Nations’ $4.4 billion emergency humanitarian fund request was fulfilled. Foreign aid had covered more than 75 percent of the country’s finances. Cutbacks in these funds could result in some serious problems, such as mass employment and hunger.
The U.N.’s top leadership urged the world community to not grow complacent.
“[P]lease don’t make the people of Afghanistan suffer twice,” said Martin Griffiths, the U.N. humanitarian affairs chief said at the time.
Some 23 million people in Afghanistan, or more than half of the population, face hunger. At the April conference of donor nations, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that 95 percent lack sufficient food.
“Nine million are at risk of famine…Global food prices are skyrocketing as a result of the war in Ukraine.
There were some steps taken by the U.S. government. President Biden signed an executive order that provided $3.5 billion in previously frozen assets toward humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. And, the country pledged another $200 million in additional funding.
In addition to the country itself, the 76,000 refugees (or more precisely, evacuees) from Afghanistan who made it here from the U.S. airlift, among other ways, have faced their own hurdles. Earlier this year, it was reported that some of the difficulties included staying at hotels for extended periods of time, landing living wage jobs, hold-ups in receiving their Social Security numbers, among other challenges. Many evacuees agave also exhausted the “welcome money” of between $1,000 and $1,200 provided to them by the State Department.
Some of the backlogs are the result of overworked and understaffed refugee resettlement agencies. They need help.
Addressing the people and the needs of Afghanistan–and its refugees– requires a long-term commitment of the world community, not just the world’s leading superpower. It shouldn’t just be the burden of a single nation in an increasingly interconnected world. The U.S. and European governments can help by working to stabilize the Central Bank.
Islamic Relief USA has been trying to help the refugee situation through meals packs around the country. A nourishing meal can go a long way to get through the day, but more permanent long-lasting solutions often involves government intervention.
While the support for Ukraine remains admirable, we also have an obligation to the people whom the world community paid much attention to for many months of the second half of last year.
It’s not just Islamic Relief USA that’s saying this:
“Even as we respond urgently to the crisis of Ukraine, we can’t neglect the people of Afghanistan,” said Liz Trush, the British foreign secretary.
Let’s not forget!