The United States Agency for International Development (USAID has announced that an initial contribution of more than $308 million in humanitarian assistance will be going to Afghanistan. This fulfills a promise made by the Biden administration to continue sending aid to this civil war-torn and impoverished country following the withdrawal of U.S. troops last year. Claims that this aid would flow directly to the Afghan people are parsed by the fact that this aid will be distributed by various third-party aid organizations.

This latest contribution will bring the amount of US to Afghanistan to nearly $782 billion since October 2020.

The UN has launched the largest humanitarian response plan in its history on behalf of Afghanistan which is now ruled by the Taliban, a terrorist organization. The UN says this aid will include food and nutrition assistance, support for health care facilities, and mobile health teams. It will also include winterization programs including cash, shelters, heaters, blankets, and clothing. The aid is being directed specifically towards, women, girls, minorities, and disabled people.  Given the patriarchal order imposed by Afghan culture and the Taliban themselves, some question exists as to whether they would be able to direct aid only to female children to the exclusion of male children in the same household.

The UN appeal calls for some $5 billion in aid to Afghanistan to stave off an impending humanitarian crisis.

It is expected that the United States will be the single largest donor of aid to the Afghan people under this UN program, even as countries like Russia, China, Pakistan, and even Iran seek to expand commercial ties to the Taliban for natural resources in the country.

“A full-blown humanitarian catastrophe looms. My message is urgent: don’t shut the door on the people of Afghanistan,” said UN aid chief Martin Griffiths.

The pre-Taliban government in Afghanistan functioned in a kleptocratic state of corruption, bribery, and embezzlement right down to the level of pay to individual soldiers being clipped by their officers retaining a percentage of their pay. Any aid flowing into Afghanistan will have to pass first through Taliban permission for aid agencies to operate in the country. The presence of large sums of cash, food, medicine, clothing, and shelters are all assets that the Taliban would see as useful in controlling the population. The Taliban might also object to humanitarian aid being provided to minorities rather than the population as a whole, including the Pashtun majority that the Taliban draws its support from.

This was the problem in Somalia where foreign aid was seized by regional warlords like Mohamed Farrah Aidid in the capital city of Mogadishu, which he used to control the population and supply his own troops and followers. Aidid attacked and killed UN peacekeeping troops and the US sent in troops to establish a stable environment for the delivery of aid to the people. These U.S. troops found themselves engaged in combat as well culminating in the bloody battle of Mogadishu in October, 1993.

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