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Afghan Taliban expand Food for Work programme

By Hamza Ameer
Kabul, Jan 12 (IANS) Amid increasing humanitarian crisis, taking a toll on the lives of the people of Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban leadership has decided to expand its programme, which offers "Food for Work", in which, wheat is used as a wage to thousands of workers on a daily basis.

Afghanistan's economic and humanitarian crisis have been worsening since the Taliban took control, prompting the international community to seize all aid to a country whose 80 per cent economy was running on foreign aid.

The expansion of the Food for World programme by the Taliban comes at a time when the United Nations has put out an appeal for urgent humanitarian aid worth USD 4.4 billion for Afghanistan, emphasising that the funds are needed in 2022 to cater to more than 50 per cent of the population of Afghanistan.

"We go into 2022 with unprecedented levels of need amongst ordinary women, men and children of Afghanistan. 24.4 million people are in humanitarian need - more than half the population," said the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

From the healthcare sector, to basic necessities of life, Afghanistan is sinking into a severe humanitarian crisis with every passing day. The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan has also demanded the international community to pressure the US to unfreeze its assets worth USD 9.5 billion.

Since the Taliban takeover in August last year, all international donors have frozen their aid to the country, while the banking sector of the country remains in severe crisis with no one able to send or receive any remittance from outside of Afghanistan.

While there have been some humanitarian supplies coming from different countries, it has not been enough to prevent millions of Afghans from starving.

Wheat supplies to Afghanistan have mainly come from India during the previous US-backed governments in Afghanistan, which is now being used to pay around 40,000 workers, who get 10kg of wheat as wage for their daylong work.

The programme initially was catering to labourers working in the capital Kabul. However, it will be expanded around the country, stated the Taliban.

Fazel Bari Fazli, the deputy minister for administration and finance at Afghanistan's Ministry of Agriculture said, "We have already taken delivery of 18 tonnes of wheat from Pakistan with a promise of another 37 tonnes. We are in talks with India over 55 tonnes more."

The United Nations has also highlighted that while Afghanistan is faced with a serious crisis, it is also in the core of one of its worst droughts in decades.

While many in Afghanistan do not agree with the country's focus being in terms of humanitarian aid and want the world to look into stabilising the damaged economy of the country through an economic plan for development and stability; humanitarian aids seems to be the first and foremost relief and rehabilitation response, the country receives from the rest of the world – a step that is welcomed by the Afghan locals, who are fearful what the coming days would bring with them in terms of humanitarian crisis.