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Humanitarian Crisis Under The Taliban Regime

A horrifying yet insightful journey on the current situation in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime is guided by News Section Editor, Olivia Chan.


With civilians killed, others struggling to scrape meagre amounts of food, and sexist policies placing Afghan women and girls at a retrogressive subjugated position, the Taliban regime has forced upon a humanitarian crisis on the Afghan people in just the past year.


Background


The Taliban took occupation of Afghanistan just over a year ago on 15 August 2021. This became possible after commencing the withdrawal of the US, UK, and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Allies and partners from Afghanistan on 1 May 2021. Consequently, between May and August 2021, the Taliban seized control of regions until they occupied Kabul, the capital, on 15 August 2021. [1]


Statistically, there were 7400 civilian casualties with 2091 killed and 5309 wounded were recorded between 1 January and 14 August 2021 by UNAMA HRS, with women and children contributing to almost 40% of the casualties. 29% of these figures occurred just between 1 July and 14 August. [2]


Of the casualties:

• 42% consisted of ground engagements.

• 29% involved improvised explosive devices.

• 11% were targeted killings.

• 7% were contributed by aerial attacks.


These statistics alone already paint a violent portrait of the Taliban regime.


Current Situation


The numbers have slightly lowered, with 2106 civilian casualties with 700 killed, 1406 wounded. 88 women (37 killed, 51 wounded) and 441 children (159 killed, 282 wounded). [3]


26 August 2021, Kabul: ISIL-KP attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport using two suicide bombers amongst a crowd of civilian attempting to leave Afghanistan, killing over 72 and wounding over 140. More casualties were also inflicted on US forces and de facto security forces.


29 August 2021: US drone attack in residential area killed 10 civilians, 7 being children.


However, many attacks were ramped up on mosques, public parks, schools and public transport by ISIL-KP. This demonstrates a targeted approach at ethnic and religious minorities instead. These included Hazara Shias, Shia Muslims in general, and Sufi Muslims. [4]


A few of the multitude of attacks include:

• 8 October 2021: Suicide attack in Kunduz city in Sayed Abad Shia Mosque killed over 80 and wounded over 150.

• 15 October 2021: Suicide attack in Kandahar city in Imam Bargah Fatimeyah mosque killing over 41 and wounder over 70.


Beyond such violence, sexist ideologies were put into practice. Two days after the takeover, the Taliban pledged that there would be “no violence... and no discrimination against women”. [5] On the contrary, girls have been prohibited from attending secondary school, women are forced to wear the hijab or burqa, park visits are segregated by sex, women have been dismissed and banned from jobs, women are forced to travel to work with a male family member, and many more rules. There was even a pedantic rule requiring female news anchors to cover their faces on air. On the other hand, men were instructed to grow beards and to wear local clothing. [6]


Furthermore, countries have put on a cold front to Afghan refugees, leading to a refugee crisis. Iran has deported thousands of Afghan refugees whilst the public and authorities subject them to abuse. Turkey has deported over 10000 Afghan migrants. Belgium rejected hundreds of asylum claims. Germany evicted Afghan refugees from their homes within a 24-hour period for Ukrainian refugees instead. Canada will take no more than 40000 Afghan refugees despite having no limit on Ukrainian refugees. [7]


As if the tolls Afghan people are suffering through are not enough, mass hunger also plagues the country, leading to consequential economy impacts that live in a cruel symbiosis with starvation. As measured between March and May 2022, almost 19.7 million people (half the population) are suffering level 3 “crisis” or 4 “emergency” levels of food insecurity. [8] Accordingly, key factors to the food crisis involve:


• Economic Decline: Economic isolation including a lack of international grant support (>$8 billion p/a) coupled with a loss of access to offshore assets, financial linkages, and the Ukraine crisis, have walked Afghanistan into a vicious cycle of economic instability leading to poverty, high unemployment rates, and high inflation, which leave Afghanistan in a trench of economic deflation.

• Drought: A very dry season between 2021-2022 along with high agriculture input costs led to reduced winter wheat cultivation. This is predicted to cause a 7-13% decrease in the expected wheat harvest.

• High Food Prices: High prices of commodities and reduced incomes have forced a double whammy on the already starving population.


Impact of Ukraine Crisis: Increased global food prices as Russia and Ukraine were large exporters of wheat. Regional suppliers would rather keep their resources to themselves. Coupled with high food prices and a low crop harvest, only starvation is on the horizon.


With the implementation of the Taliban’s militaristic regime, the lives of many Afghan people continue to be endangered. One way to reach out is by supporting the International Committee of the Red Cross’ efforts in administering health care, rehabilitation support, welfare support, family reconnection, and access to clean water, sanitation and energy: https://www.icrc.org/en/donate/afghanistan.



[1] “Human Rights in Afghanistan”. United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s Human Rights Service, July 2022, p. 7.

[2] Ibid, p. 9.

[3] Ibid, p. 10.

[4] Ibid, p. 11.

[5] Ritchie, Hannah, and Nada Bashir. “Taliban pledge ‘no violence against women’ but say international community ‘should respect our core values’”. CNN, 17 August 2021, https://edition.cnn.com/world/live-news/afghanistan-taliban-us-news-08-17-21/h_18411afdb1e8b9e760b4e07fcdbdc9ff.

[6] Asefi, Ferdouse. “Afghanistan A Year After The Taliban Occupation: An Ongoing War On Human Rights”. The Conversation, 1 August 2022, https:// theconversation.com/afghanistan-a-year-after-the-taliban-occupation-an-ongoing-war-on-human-rights-187728.

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Afghanistan: Nearly 20 Million Afghans Experiencing High Acute Food Insecurity”. ipcinfo.org, May 2022, https://www.ipcinfo.org/ipcinfo-website/ resources/resources-details/en/c/1155598/.

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