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IPFS News Link • Afghanistan

23 Million Afghans On Brink Of Starvation As Media Has 'Moved On'

•, by Andrea Germanos

"Aid groups have predicted that if current U.S. economic policy toward Afghanistan continues, there could be more civilian deaths this year than there were in 20 years of war," the Congressional Progressive Caucus tweeted Sunday. "The Biden administration can, and must, act now."

The Taliban seized control of the country in August following the U.S. military's withdrawal after two decades of a military occupation that enriched weapons makers but did little to benefit the Afghan people. Following its defeat, the U.S. then imposed new sanctions the Taliban government, while the World Bank and IMF froze crucial assets.

While last summer's troop pullout received widespread corporate media coverage, the country crisis is now largely absent from news reports. There's been a "stunning plunge" in coverage, as foreign policy analyst Jim Lobe put it late last month, despite "unprecedented levels of hunger and starvation for which U.S. sanctions bear important responsibility."

Warnings from aid groups about the humanitarian impacts of Western nations cutting off vital aid to the country were clear in the weeks following the military withdrawal. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, for example, warned of "imminent collapse of health services and widespread hunger"—crises made worse by the coming harsh winter and a fuel crisis.

In a mid-December statement, Mary-Ellen McGroarty, the World Food Program's country director in Afghanistan, put the situation in stark terms. "Afghanistan is facing an avalanche of hunger and destitution the likes of which I have never seen in my 20 plus years with the World Food Program," she said.

With a new year underway, the situation remains dire; the International Rescue Committee said last week that Afghanistan was the country "most at risk of worsening humanitarian crisis in 2022." As a result of the international community's suspension of most nonhumanitarian aid and the freezing of billions of assets, said IRC, "most health clinics have closed and the economy has spiraled downward (risking near-universal poverty)."