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UN Official Warns of Economic Collapse and Food Insecurity in Afghanistan

Oct. 30 (EIRNS)–In New York, UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths told The Associated Press in an interview that the G20 leaders should worry about Afghanistan because its economy is collapsing and half the population risks not having enough food to eat as the snows have already started to fall. Half the Afghan children under age five are at risk of acute malnutrition and there is an outbreak of measles in every single province which is “a red light” and “the canary in the mine” for what’s happening in society, he said.

Griffiths warned that food insecurity leads to malnutrition, then disease and death, and “absent corrective action” the world will be seeing deaths in Afghanistan. He said the World Food Program is feeding 4 million people in Afghanistan now, but the U.N. predicts that because of the dire winter conditions and the economic collapse it is going to have to provide food to triple that number — 12 million Afghans — “and that’s massive.”

“So, the message that I would give to the leaders of the G 20 is worry about economic collapse in Afghanistan, because economic collapse in Afghanistan will, of course, have an exponential effect on the region,” he said. “And the specific issue that I would ask them to focus on first, is the issue of getting cash into the economy in Afghanistan — not into the hands of the Taliban — into the hands of the people whose access to their own bank accounts is not frozen.”


Afghanistan Is at “the Precipice;” More Than Half of Its People Now Face Famine

The latest “Food Security” report on Afghanistan released yesterday by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) raises the alarm that Afghanistan is becoming the largest humanitarian crisis in the world—beyond even the horror of the famines in Yemen, Ethiopia, Syria, and South Sudan. The facts, maps, and descriptions included in that report make clear that mass death has begun, and that the U.S.-led Western financial sanctions are playing a major role in this catastrophe. This is genocide.

The number of Afghanistan’s people suffering “acute food insecurity” has risen, even after this season’s harvest, from 14 million to 18.8 million people—47% of the nation’s population. That’s a 37% increase since the last assessment carried out by these agencies in April. The FAO and WFP now project that, come the November to March winter months, at least 22.8 million people—more than half (55%) of Afghanistan’s people—will be starving to death. Be clear: “acute food insecurity” is not chronic hunger; it is defined as “when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger.”

“Economic decline” stemming from the imposition of international financial sanctions is identified right up front as a “key driver” of this catastrophe, along with conflict and drought. “In the wake of Afghanistan’s political transition and the consequent freezing of US$ 9.5 billion in national assets, the economy plummeted,” the report acknowledges. “The banking system suffered severe disruption, and the national currency lost 12.5 percent of value, leading to high unemployment and food prices.”

In large part because of the sanctions, “for the first time, urban residents are suffering from food insecurity at similar rates to rural communities…. Across cities, towns and villages, virtually no family can afford sufficient food, according to recent WFP surveys,” the World Food Program reported in a press release. “Rampant unemployment and a liquidity crisis are putting all major urban centers in danger of slipping into a Phase 4 emergency level of food insecurity, including formerly middle class populations,” the report finds.

“Afghanistan is now among the world’s worst humanitarian crises—if not the worst—and food security has all but collapsed,” WFP executive director David Beasley warned in releasing this report. “This winter, millions of Afghans will be forced to choose between migration and starvation unless we can step up our life-saving assistance, and unless the economy can be resuscitated…. Hunger is rising and children are dying … the international community must come together to address this crisis, which is fast spinning out of control.”

The WFP press release cites one of the authors of the report, Jean-Martin Bauer, on how one million Afghan children, right now, are in danger of dying of hunger. Bauer asserted that “no one wants to see Afghan children die as a result of, you know, politics, essentially.”

Prove him right; join the Schiller Institute’s international campaign to end the financial strangulation of Afghanistan, and sign and circulate its “Call to Release the funds of the Afghan people.”


Wang Yi, Afghan Govt. Meeting Agrees To Set Up Joint Working Committees

Both China and Afghanistan appear to view the two days of meetings between Afghan Acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Doha yesterday and today, as productive and friendly.

Going into the talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin yesterday noted the importance of the talks, the first at this level since their meetings in July before the Taliban assumption of power. “The Afghan people are seeing a historic opportunity to independently take control of their country’s future,” at the same time that they face “many difficulties and challenges, where there is an urgent need for external support,” the spokesman emphasized. “Against such a backdrop, the Chinese side and the Afghan Taliban authorities have agreed to meet in Doha.”

Global Times reports that Wang Yi spoke of China’s concerns (EITM terrorism, the need for inclusive government, for avoiding chaos, and for having good relations with neighbors, etc.), but also expressed China’s support for Afghanistan’s development:

“Wang urged the US and the West to lift sanctions on the country. He also called upon all parties to engage with the Afghan Taliban in a rational and pragmatic manner to help Afghanistan embark on a path of healthy development,” Global Times reported.

“Wang said that Afghanistan is now at a critical stage of transforming from chaos to governance, and is facing a historic opportunity to achieve reconciliation and advance national reconstruction. But challenges still lay ahead, including the humanitarian crises, economic chaos and terrorist threats, which require more understanding and support from the international community.”

Global Times reported that Baradar had briefed Wang on the current situation in Afghanistan, and told him “that the Afghan Taliban attaches great importance to China’s security concerns, and will resolutely honor its promise and never allow any forces to use the Afghan territory to harm China.”

Afghanistan’s Tolo News, citing government spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, reports that Beijing had promised to provide $5 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, and that the two governments had agreed to set up three committees. “The first committee is working on political and diplomatic relations; the second will focus on creating relations and understanding between the two countries; and the third committee is working on economic projects,” Mujahid reported.


Afghanistan’s Drought and Water Crisis Worsening; 2,000 Health Facilities Close

Afghanistan’s Drought and Water Crisis Are Worsening; 2,000 Health Facilities Close

Oct. 25, 2021 (EIRNS)–Afghanistan’s collapse in physical economic and agricultural production, the implosion of its health system, as well as the threat to human life, has gotten worse over the last two months. The nationwide drought is intensifying, while the West applies a tourniquet to the flow of necessary funds.

Physical economic conditions never stay in a “metastable state;” they either get better or worse.

In June of this year, then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani officially declared a drought in Afghanistan. This was based on information from several agencies, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which declared that “80% of Afghanistan is exposed to serious drought”—30% to “severe drought,” and 50% to “serious drought,” comprising 80%—and the remaining 20% part of the country was exposed to “moderate drought.”

Richard Trenchard, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization director for Afghanistan, stated in late September, “This is the worst drought in 35–36 years. Many public institutions which provide a safety net, have ceased to function. Farmers have very little to fall back upon.”

Farming is being destroyed. The UN reported August 25, “Some 40 percent of [Afghanistan’s] crops have been lost to drought in the second massive water shortage in three years—further heightening food insecurity.” The World Food Program already reported that 14 million people in Afghanistan are food insecure, a number that is doubtless rising.

But the shortage of water is affecting not only agriculture, but the whole economy and society, which depends on water. A 2008 report reported “that drinking water supplies reach only 23 percent of Afghanistan’s total population… The country’s total sanitation coverage [is] only 12 percent.”

Two critical infrastructural sectors expose some of the crisis.

Afghanistan has only a combined approximately 100 private and public hospitals for a nation of 40 million people, a meager amount. The nation’s health system is run through a network of 2,200 “health facilities,” about 200 of which appear to be primary health clinics; it is not clear how large the other facilities are. These 2,200 facilities are run through an institution called Sehatmandi which is administered by the World Bank through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Fund and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health. It is funded through the World Bank, the European Union, Canada and Global Financing Facilities.

When the Taliban came to power in the period of August 17–18, these funding institutions cut off money. On September 30, Alexander Matheou, the Asia Pacific director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies stated that “over 2,000 health facilities have closed.” He added that more than 20,000 health workers in the country were no longer working or were working without being paid; more than 7,000 of them are women. “People might agree to work without salaries for a few more weeks,” Matheou stated. “But once medicines run out totally, if you can’t switch on the lights, if you’ve got nothing to offer somebody who comes to your clinic, then they’ll shut the doors.”

Under intense pressure, on September 20, the Global Fund and the United Nations Development Fund signed an agreement to supply $15 million to the 2,200 health facilities. This is a drop in the bucket.

International donors pledged in October $1.2 billion to Afghanistan. But there are three roadblocks: 1) it is not clear how much of the pledged money will be really delivered; 2) it takes sometimes months for the money to get into the system; and 3) above all, the clinics are greatly inadequate, Afghanistan needs hundreds of new advanced hospitals, tens of thousands of skilled doctors and nurses, and so forth.

In the meantime, COVID is looming. Nine of Afghanistan’s 37 COVID hospitals have closed. Afghanistan has put a reported only 2.2 million COVID jabs into people; it has 1.2 million doses of vaccine waiting to be distributed, that haven’t been. They will expire by the end of the year.

This is pure and simple genocide.

As for water, Afghanistan has an annual surface water runoff water volume of 57,000 million cubic meters per year, which comes out to approximately 1,425 cubic meters/year per capita. This is insufficient, but would be a start. However, Afghanistan does not have an adequate water basin catchment system, and precipitation is not evenly distributed geographically.

In 2016, India spent $275 million to complete what is now called the “Afghan-India Friendship Dam” in Herat province on the Hari River. It will irrigate 75,000 hectares of land. But otherwise, new dam construction and broader water management hardly exists.

The U.S. is blocking more than $9 billion in Afghanistan’s central bank that belong to the Afghan people. The World Bank, IMF, and EU are blocking hundreds of millions more. (See the Schiller Institute’s demand for release of the Afghans’ funds at this link.)

These more than $10 billion, were they deposited in a fund under sovereign Afghan control, could be used to build hospitals, administer the COVID-19 vaccine; begin emergency food and water distribution; make down payments on dams and water management projects; build power stations, etc. Immediate building in Afghanistan must start.


Putin Calls on Western Nations to Release Afghanistan’s Reserves

Asked at the Valdai Club Discussion, how Afghanistan can be helped to achieve political stability and economic development, President Putin emphasized that while the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Afghanistan’s neighbors will help the country economically, the Western nations who occupied the country for 20 years must take primary responsibility to stabilize the situation. “The first thing they must do,” Putin said, “is to release Afghan assets, and give Afghanistan an opportunity to resolve high priority socio-economic problems.”

The exchange, with Tsinghua University strategist Zhou Bo, follows:

Zhou Bo: “Mr. President, it is really my great honor to ask you this question. I will ask you something about Afghanistan. Afghanistan lies in the heart of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. So, if Afghanistan has a problem, then the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has a problem. Now the United States has withdrawn from Afghanistan. So how can the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is led by China and Russia, united with other countries, help Afghanistan to achieve political stability and economic development?”

Vladimir Putin:
“The situation in Afghanistan is one of the most urgent issues today. You know, we have just had a meeting in the appropriate format, in part, with representatives of the Taliban. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is also active in Afghanistan. This is a very serious issue for all of us because for both China and Russia it is extremely important to have a calm, developing Afghanistan that is not a source of terrorism, or any form of radicalism, next to our national borders, if not on our borders.

“We are now seeing what is happening inside Afghanistan. Unfortunately, different groups, including ISIS are still there. There are already victims among the Taliban movement, which, as a whole, is still trying to get rid of these radical elements and we know of such examples. This is very important for us, for both Russia and China.

“In order to normalize the situation properly and at the right pace, it is necessary, of course, to help Afghanistan restore its economy because drugs are another huge problem. It is a known fact that 90 percent of opiates come to the world market from Afghanistan. And if there is no money, what will they do? From what sources and how will they fund their social programs?

“Therefore, for all the importance of our participation in these processes – both China and Russia and other SCO countries – the main responsibility for what is happening there is still borne by the countries that fought there for 20 years. I believe the first thing they must do is to release Afghan assets and give Afghanistan an opportunity to resolve high priority socio-economic problems.

“For our part, we can implement specific large projects and deal with domestic security issues. Our special services are in contact with their Afghan counterparts. For us, within the SCO, it is very important to get this work up and running because Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are right on the border with Afghanistan. We have a military facility in Tajikistan. It was based on the 201st division when it was still Soviet.

“Therefore, we will actively continue this work with China on a bilateral plane, develop dialogue with relevant structures and promote cooperation within the SCO as a whole. In the process, we will allocate the required resources and create all the conditions to let our citizens feel safe regardless of what is happening in Afghanistan.”


Uzbekistan Delegation Meeting with Taliban Promotes Infrastructure and Aid

A delegation from Uzbekistan’s government, led by Investment and Foreign Trade Minister Sardor Umurzakov, met with the Afghan delegation led by Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy prime minister of the Taliban’s provisional government in Termez (in the southern portion of Uzbekistan) on Oct. 16, for a one-day conference.

In a statement from Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yusup Kabulzhanov told TASS on Oct. 16: “‘At the meetings, representatives of a number of ministries and agencies discussed trade and economic cooperation, border security, cooperation in the fields of energy, international haulage and transit.’

“The talks are reported to have focused on the implementation of infrastructure projects, which include the construction of the Surkhan-Puli-Khumri transmission line and the Termez-Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway,” TASS reported.

The Afghani English-language online daily 8AM also reported that “In the meeting, the two sides have appointed a joint technical team to provide instructions for the implementation of projects. After 10 days, the team is supposed to complete strategy and instructions on how to implement these projects and present them to the officials of both sides.”

Termez is becoming a hub for humanitarian aid. The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) said this week that three consignments of humanitarian aid would be airlifted to Termez in the near future before entering Afghanistan by truck.

Radio Free Europe reported that last month, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev told the UN General Assembly that his country has resumed the supply of oil and electricity to Afghanistan. “It is impossible to isolate Afghanistan and leave it within the range of its problems,” RFE quoted him as saying.

In related news, AFP reported that acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met in Ankara on Oct. 14 with Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu: “Cavusoglu called on governments to unfreeze Afghanistan’s foreign accounts to ease the growing humanitarian crisis but said Turkey was not yet ready to recognize the group.”


A Call To Release the Funds of the Afghan People

This call by the Schiller Institute will be distributed internationally Oct. 14 as the IMF and World Bank meet in Washington.

PDF of this statement

Today and in the coming days, we, informed citizens of the world and patriots of our own nations, stand united, in Washington, Berlin, Lima, Paris, Rome, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Madrid, Stockholm, Brussels and in many other cities of the world, to expose and denounce a crime.

On August 15, after four decades of foreign interventions, a new government took power in Afghanistan. While having orientations we don’t necessarily approve of, the new government has expressed its willingness to face the immediate humanitarian challenges, eradicate opium production, reconstruct Afghanistan’s health system and build the basic infrastructure required to jump-start trade and development. As clearly understood by Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Turkmenistan, Iran and others, it is in the interest of all to allow the new government to stabilize the situation by engaging in normal international relations. But more is required: without a minimal foreign input, Afghanistan will fail in dealing with a deadly food and health crisis that started way before Aug. 14.

Hence, it is outrageous that in the days following the Taliban takeover, the White House announced that all assets of Afghanistan’s central bank held in the U.S. would not be released to the new Afghan government:

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve refuses to release the $9.5 billion of assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, $7 billion of which are held by the New York Fed. About $1.3 billion of these are held in international accounts, with some of it in euros and British pounds, while the rest are held by the Bank for International Settlements based in Switzerland. As a result, Afghanistan can only access 0.1-0.2 % of its total reserves!
  • The International Monetary Fund has suspended all financing for “lack of clarity within the international community” over recognizing the new government. $370 million set to be released on Aug. 23 was withheld and access to the IMF’s reserves in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) assets, which can be converted to government-backed money, have also been blocked.
  • The World Bank (as denounced by a petition of Code Pink) has refused to release some $440 million, notably the funds required to pay Afghan teachers and health workers. Hence, while there is a huge outcry over “women’s rights,” 13,000 female healthcare workers, including doctors, midwives, nurses, vaccinators, and other female staff, are not being paid by the World Bank’s Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

On Feb. 29, 2020, the Taliban and the U.S. government signed an agreement. Part III of that agreement stipulates: “The U.S.A. and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are committed to continue positive relations, including economic cooperation for reconstruction…. The United States will refrain from the threat or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Afghanistan or intervening in its domestic affairs.”

Today, if the United States wants to regain respect and esteem, it has to live up to its own commitments, especially when millions of human lives, both female and male, are at stake, which is the case in Afghanistan as a result of a food and health crisis of apocalyptic dimensions. Two out of five Afghans, many of them children, are facing starvation.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, call on President Joe Biden to act in the spirit of the 2020 Doha agreement, signed by the U.S.A., and lift all unnecessary sanctions against Afghanistan, including the use of malign pretexts to prevent its control over the assets of its own central bank as well as its normal access to the international financial markets. The urgency is now!

Support this call and help to spread it!

Initial signatory:

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, President, Schiller Institute

Jacques Cheminade, President Solidarité et Progrès, three-time presidential candidate


Webcast: We Are Facing “Fascism with a Green Face”, and We Should Call It That!

As energy hyperinflation is taking off, as a result of both objective and subjective factors, Helga Zepp-LaRouche said that this is what her husband uniquely warned about when the Club of Rome first began pushing its anti-human slogan of “limits to growth” in the late 1960s. This is Schachtian policy, she said, a strategy of the leading oligarchs running the world economy, to drastically reduce the world’s population, using the same methods Schacht applied in Germany under Hitler. This has now been openly identified in an article in the October 4 “Economist” magazine, “The Age of Fossil-Fuel Dependence Is Dead”, and in Klaus Schwab’s new book, “Stakeholder Capitalism”, as the dark future they intend to impose. Zepp-LaRouche stated that this is “fascism with a Green face”, and should be identified as such, to mobilize people to defeat it.

In addition to destroying the world’s physical economy, they are engaging in an assault against the idea of human creativity, which is the one source of innovation which has demonstrated that, as LaRouche wrote, “There Are No Limits to Growth.” And at the same time, they are conducting provocations against China which could lead to war. She reiterated her view that collaborative efforts among nations, including the U.S., Russia and China, to reconstruct Afghanistan and Haiti, can provide a basis for overcoming this otherwise deadly threat to humanity.


UN Agencies Warn Again: Afghan Children Face “Acute Malnutrition” and Death

After a visit to Herat, Afghanistan, the UNICEF and World Food Program Representatives to Afghanistan, Hervé Ludovic De Lys and Mary-Ellen McGroarty, respectively, warned that one half of Afghanistan’s children under five years old —an estimated 3.2 million children— are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by the end of the year, and at least a million of them are at risk of dying, should they not get immediate treatment.

The WFP estimates that 95% of households in Afghanistan are not eating enough food, and the two UN agencies are now adding 100 more mobile health and nutrition teams, to the 168 already operating in hard-to-reach areas. UNICEF rep De Lys warned that “the nutritional health of mothers and their children is getting worse by the day…. Children are getting sicker and their families are less and less able to get them the treatment they need. Rapidly spreading outbreaks of measles and acute watery diarrhoea will only exacerbate the situation.”

WFP’s McGroarty reiterated: “Unless we intervene now, malnutrition will only become more severe. The international community must release the funds they pledged weeks ago, or the impact could be irreversible.”


China Begins Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan

Oct. 1 (EIRNS)–A batch of aid mainly including warm materials such as blankets and cotton clothes provided by the Chinese government arrived in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, on Wednesday.

“The first batch of aid brings the deep love and friendship of the Chinese people and reflects China’s role as a major country that keeps its promises and is kind to its neighbors, which is a great move to build a community with a shared future for mankind,” said Luo Zhaohui, head of the China International Development Cooperation Agency.

Based on the needs of the Afghan people, China has decided to urgently provide food, materials for Winter, COVID-19 vaccines, and medicines worth 200 million yuan, according to Wang Yi, Foreign Minister, who spoke about this recently.

When security and other conditions are available, China is willing to help Afghanistan build projects that will contribute to improving people’s livelihood, and support peace and reconstruction.


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