The Biden administration is providing more than $308 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Afghans facing food and water shortages, economic collapse and other issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Taliban rule and the harsh winter.
The latest contribution brings the total amount of assistance from Washington to Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $782 million since October, according to National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne.
In addition to the money, the US will be providing 1 million additional coronavirus vaccine doses through the global COVAX initiative — bringing the administration’s total contributions to 4.3 million doses.
“The new humanitarian assistance by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will directly flow through independent humanitarian organizations and help provide lifesaving protection and shelter, essential health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services in response to the growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by COVID-19 and health care shortages, drought, malnutrition, and the winter season,” Horne said.
“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people and we continue to consider all options available to us. We stand with the people of Afghanistan.”
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, the US and its Western allies have attempted to aid the Afghan people by either flying those who wish to leave out of the country or by directly providing aid groups with humanitarian funds rather than the Islamist government.
Nearly 80 percent of the budget of Afghanistan’s previous government was financed by international aid. That money, now cut off, funded hospitals, schools, factories and government ministries.
Many countries have refused to recognize the Taliban’s reconquest, which took place as the US withdrew all military forces and brought an end to its 20-year conflict with the militant group.
Families have faced starvation under the new government, with some even resorting to selling their children to feed the rest of their families. With temperatures dropping, the dire food situation across Afghanistan has been made worse.
Last month, the United Nations Refugee Agency estimated that nearly 23 million people in Afghanistan — around 55 percent of the population — face extreme levels of hunger while almost 9 million are at risk of famine.
Since the Taliban took power, the US has continued to evacuate thousands of Americans and Afghan allies for resettlement.
In December, the State Department claimed it was in contact with fewer than a dozen US citizens left in Afghanistan who wished to leave. However, private volunteer organizations also assisting in evacuations note that thousands of Afghan allies still remain.
One organization, No One Left Behind, told The Post that it is tracking more than 10,000 Afghans who are either eligible for, applied for, or were approved for a Special Immigrant Visa and have requested help getting out of Taliban-controlled territory, adding that the number is “likely a limited picture” of the situation.