A year after the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan — while the Taliban celebrates a year of control from Kabul — economic collapse threatens to kill more Afghans than the two decades of war that preceded it.
That grim prediction comes from the International Rescue Committee, a global aid organization that estimates some 24 million Afghans are going hungry on a daily basis.
“One year since the shift in power, Afghan civilians are bearing the brunt of a decimated economy and spiraling humanitarian crisis,” Vicki Aken, head of international aid group’s operations in the country, said in a statement issued Monday.
“People are unemployed and the nation is hungry,” Aken said.
The ruling militants took to the streets on Monday to celebrate their seizing power last year following the U.S. withdrawal.
Groups of armed Taliban fighters held small victory parades in the Kabul streets, hoisting their rifles aloft.
A few hundred Taliban supporters gathered in front of the former US Embassy, some with signs reading “death to America.”
Officials proclaimed that the Taliban had succeeded where the US had failed — bringing security to a country scarred by decades of war.
The Taliban deputy prime minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, boasted on state radio and TV of his regime’s “great achievements.”
He congratulated “the entire nation on the day of the conquest of Kabul, which was the beginning of the complete end of the occupation.”
Authorities have dubbed the anniversary “The Proud Day of August 15,” and made it a public holiday.
The nation, however, is on the verge of falling apart.
Taliban hardliners have instituted strict limits on educating women and girls, making the nation the only in the world to effectively ban girls from a secondary education. Despite promises of reform, the government has booted many women from government jobs.
A rare protest for women’s rights was violently dispersed last week, with Taliban enforcers firing guns into the air and beating women with their rifle butts.
As the Taliban returns to the brutal methods it used to maintain power in the 1990s, the international aid that the country relied on for 20 years has dried up, with world governments distancing themselves from the extremist rulers.
A United Nations estimate has as many as 95% of Afghan households struggling to get enough food, with nearly half facing acute hunger. The IRC said 43% of Afghans report eating only one meal a day — a situation made worse by a grain shortage linked to the war in Ukraine.
Soaring food prices mean that Afghans are spending as much as three-quarters of their income solely on food, according to the UN.
“Sometimes we eat dinner, sometimes we don’t,” Shakeela Rahmati of Kabul told CNN recently. “The situation has been bad for three years, but this last year was the worst. My husband tried to go to Iran to work but he was deported.”
With the Taliban government still largely unrecognized by world powers — and global inflation and war in Eastern Europe driving food prices higher — there is no clear path out of the growing crisis.
Taliban negotiations with the US government over some $9 billion in Afghan central bank reserves held largely in America face serious hurdles, as the US demands professionalization of the bank and the ouster of at least one sanctioned individual from a leadership position.
With Post wires