U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that the Biden administration is working with Congress to provide nearly $300 million in additional aid for Afghanistan in 2021.
“The funding will be targeted at sustaining and building on the gains of the past 20 years by improving access to essential services for Afghan citizens, promoting economic growth, fighting corruption and the narcotics trade, improving health and education service delivery, supporting women’s empowerment, enhancing conflict resolution mechanisms, and bolstering Afghan civil society and independent media,” Blinken said in a statement.
The move comes as the United States and NATO have announced they are withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan. President Joe Biden has said U.S. military forces will be out of the country by Sept. 11.
Blinken made a surprise visit to Afghanistan last week to reassure officials there that Washington would still be committed to the country, where U.S. troops have been stationed since 2001 following the September 11 attacks when terrorists flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, outside Washington. Another hijacked plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
When Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, was in office, the U.S. reached an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. forces by May 1. Biden’s pushing back the deadline angered the insurgent group, which said the move was a violation of the agreement.
Over the course of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, more than 2,200 U.S. troops have been killed and 20,000 wounded. It is estimated that the U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion on the war, America’s longest.
According to the World Bank, more than half of Afghans live on less than $1.90 a day. It is also considered one of the worst countries for women’s rights, according to the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.