‘We can’t turn our backs on Afghanistan’s future’: A Resident Coordinator Blog |
“Not long before the Taliban took over in 2021, I visited an orphanage in Kunduz, a city in northern Afghanistan. It broke my heart to talk to a young girl there, who had lost her whole family the day before, after intense fighting between the Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban.
Although she is safe from any immediate danger, having access to food, shelter and other life-saving essentials thanks to support from our United Nations team on the ground, I knows that her needs and those of other vulnerable children across Afghanistan are much greater, and that the problems their communities face are more complex.
Since then, these challenges have grown exponentially, and our efforts to build a stable future for kids like the one I met last year in Kunduz have become more demanding. . From hunger to chronic poverty, The scale of suffering in Afghanistan continues to increase in many areas since the Taliban attacked Kabul last summer.
More than half of the country’s population now lives below the poverty line. Nearly 23 million people are food insecure, many of them severely affected, and more than two million children are malnourished. In June 2022, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck central Afghanistan, killing more than 1,000 people and pushing already vulnerable communities to the brink.
Women ‘relegated to the sidelines’
I am especially worried about Afghan women and girls, their lives have changed imperceptibly since the Taliban returned to power last summer. Since August 15, 2021, we have seen a significant decline in their economic, political and social rights and a worrying escalation in restrictive policies and behaviour. about gender. Without the right to education, work and freedom of movement, women now increasingly find themselves marginalized.
When these developments started happening last year, our United Nations team vowed to stay and provide for the people of Afghanistan. Under the auspices of A UN Transitional Commitment Framework for Afghanistanmaster strategic planning document that guides our UN team’s work in the field, we were able to save lives while maintaining essential services and preserving community systems importance.
In the first six months of this year alone, we reached 94% of the 24.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Vulnerable households have received life-saving and life-sustaining food assistance – from emergency rations, to seasonal assistance, farm supplies and nutritional supplements – to health care. health care, emergency shelter and non-food items, sanitation assistance and protection.
Decades of Forgotten
However, despite our unprecedented response, Demand across Afghanistan remains great. Rates of food insecurity, poverty and debt have skyrocketed since the Taliban returned to power last summer, even if the roots of these problems existed long before August 15, 2015. 2021 after decades of neglect and underdevelopment in critical infrastructure and public services.
Without access to these services, including robust health care, a functioning banking system, and a resilient agricultural sector, the lives of ordinary Afghans would continue. balance. The people of Afghanistan deserve a serious commitment and a sustainable investment in their future, which is why, a year after the Taliban takeover, we are redoubled efforts to strengthen the pillars. basis of Afghan society, starting with its economy.
Guided by the goals set out in our Transitional Commitment Framework, we will focus on revitalizing the bottom-up economy, expanding women’s economic participation and creating more than two million new jobs. With more sustainable sources of income, families will be better equipped to escape the endless cycle of hunger and gradually reduce their reliance on humanitarian assistance.
The full return of women to the workforce is essential to transforming the Afghan economythat’s why we’re working hard to support women-led businesses and expand employment opportunities for women across the country.
Focus on agricultural economics
Since the majority of people in Afghanistan live in rural areas, special attention must be paid to maintaining the agrarian economy by strengthening the agro-food system and developing linkages. closer ties between farmers, food producers and local markets.
Our United Nations team is rolling out these approaches in rural areas across Afghanistan, including in some areas affected by recent earthquakes. Visiting this region of southeastern Afghanistan earlier this month, one of the young men I met gave me a handwritten letter listing the immediate requirements for his village: water. cleanliness, housing, education, health, roads and jobs. The message to the UN is clear: support us with these simple requests now and we can better support ourselves in the face of future uncertainties.
As we move forward, we will continue to work to improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan – including women and girls. When the Taliban returned to power last summer, we rapidly scaled up our provision of essential health, education and protection services to women and girls. We have expanded this support in recent months, opening new women-friendly wellness spaces in Kabul to increase access to psychological support; scale up mobile medical teams to reach more vulnerable women and children affected by earthquakes and launch more training programs for displaced and repatriated women through our empowerment center.
Whatever lies ahead, we will put the needs of women and girls at the heart of our recovery efforts and will work every day to ensure that they return to work, return to school and be able to resume the right to a free and equal life.
Looking back on this day last year, I am proud of the support our United Nations team has provided to the people of Afghanistan, and the efforts we have made to avert some of the worst-case scenarios that we have ever seen. We fear it will happen.
Very moved and motivated by the realities of the ground, I look at the challenges ahead and reiterate our mission to ensure that everyone in Afghanistan, including children like the girl from Kunduz, able to plan and have a decent future, far beyond striving for existence today.