US announces 308 mln aid to Afghanistan amid crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House announced Tuesday a contribution of $ 308 million in additional humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, which is approaching a humanitarian crisis after the Taliban took power nearly five months ago.

New aid from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will be delivered through independent humanitarian organizations and used to provide shelter, medical care, winter conditioning, emergency food assistance, water , sanitation and hygiene services, White House spokeswoman Emily Horne explained in a statement.

The already troubled Afghan economy has plummeted since the Taliban came to power in August. Almost 80% of the budget of the previous government came from the international community. Those funds, which were suspended, financed hospitals, schools, factories and ministries.

Desperation to meet these basic needs has been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a shortage of health care, drought and malnutrition.

USAID called on the Taliban to allow “all humanitarian workers, especially women … to operate independently and safely” as their organizations try to help those who suffer.

The new installment brings US humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan to more than $ 780 million since the chaotic end of the 20-year war in August. The United Nations claims that 22% of the country’s 38 million people live on the brink of famine, and that another 36% face severe food insecurity.

In addition, the White House promised to ship an additional 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, an initiative of the World Health Organization to improve access to vaccines. With these, Washington will have sent 4.3 million doses to Afghanistan, which has problems controlling the relentless pandemic.

The Taliban had asked the international community to release funds and help it avoid a humanitarian disaster.

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