By Asia Maqsood
Afghanistan is currently experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis. Afghanistan is receiving aid from its neighbors India, Pakistan, China and also from the US. These nations are assisting Afghanistan believing in the principles of humanity, impartiality, and neutrality. For humanitarian aid to truly help humanity wherever it is in need, it must be independent of achieving any political, economic, and military objectives.
However, there is a greater need for development assistance in Afghanistan, which is support for resolving continuing problems that worsen human misery or suffering. People immediately gain from humanitarian aid, whereas the development assistance can address the structural problems. . This humanitarian aid counters the crisis’s immediate consequences to lessen the risk such as the poverty cycle which can last for years. The development assistance or aid would be provided to Afghanistan only under feasible security conditions. Moreover, a people- friendly government could also play its role in this regard.
The withdrawal of US troops after 20 years of war has resulted in deteriorated security situation of the Afghanistan. Not only security but also economic and social conditions worsened.
According to estimates, there are 41.7 million people living in Afghanistan, with 50% men and 50% women. Afghanistan has one of the largest youth populations in the world with a startling 47% of the population being under the age of 15.
With a projected population growth rate of 2.3 per cent per annum, the country’s financially-dependent youth population is set to grow. Population growth, internal displacement, is contributing to increased strain on limited resources, livelihood opportunities and basic services. It is estimated that there are more than 2.6 million Afghan refugees worldwide and more than 5.8 million people displaced by conflict and disasters inside the country since 2012.
20 years’ war, COVID-19 and the broad-based economic crisis following the Taliban’s take over has listed many people from extreme poverty into outright catastrophe.
Since August 2021, the United States has provided more than $1.1 billion in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, including around $812 million from USAID and almost $320 million from the State Department.
The United States is sending approximately $55 million in emergency humanitarian aid through the U.S. Agency for International Development in response to the magnitude 5.9 earthquake that rocked eastern Afghanistan on June 22. But the question is whether this humanitarian assistance is going to develop the country in longer run or not.
Apart from US many countries such as Pakistan has begun dispatched in Nov, (last year, after the withdrawal of US,) 1800 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan at the northwestern Torkham border crossing between the countries as relief assistance.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced more than $28m medical, food and other humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, while also authorizing the transport of food aid from India through Pakistan to Afghanistan.
India has also invested more than USD 3 billion in Afghanistan for the welfare of its people, said Minister of External Affairs V. Muraleedharan in Lok Sabha.
Replying to a question in the Lower House of Parliament on investment in Afghanistan, the MoS said, “India has been engaged in a development partnership with Afghanistan, which includes more than five hundred projects spread across each of the 34 provinces of the country in critical areas of power, water supply, road connectivity, healthcare, education, agriculture and capacity building. “In all, more than USD 3 billion has been invested in the welfare of the people of Afghanistan.
China is the first country after Taliban take-over, intended to give 200million yuan to Afghanistan as emergency humanitarian assistance.
In a nutshell, China and the other neighbors should work for Afghanistan’s development through development assistance or in form of investments while also providing urgent humanitarian aid or in other words they should focus on investment-based development efforts.
Asia Maqsood is an independent writer. She has completed M.Phil from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, at the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies