On the Brink of Collapse: A Worsening Humanitarian Crisis

America's withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent Taliban takeover have thrown the country into one of the world's worst economic crises. About 75% of the government's budget came from foreign institutions. Now that these institutions have departed from the country, has left millions of Afghans living in absolute poverty with 95% of Afghans not getting enough nutrients according to United Nations. 

As the crisis deepens, the impact on women is particularly devastating. In a society where women's right to work is increasingly restricted, women face disproportionate suffering. According to Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, Afghanistan ranks last out of 170 countries in women’s inclusion, justice, and security. 

Faced with scarcity, families often prioritize their breadwinners, resulting in women consuming less, becoming more susceptible to illnesses, and premature death. Further restrictions on women’s education and ability to work by the Taliban government will result in an even more acute situation for women who are increasingly reliant on men. 

Winters in mountainous Afghanistan are very harsh with temperatures often reaching well below zero degrees Celsius in many parts of the country. This has pushed many families to make desperate decisions. In struggling communities, the desperate situation often leads families to resort to heartbreaking choices: sending their sons to beg or scavenge for trash in exchange for meager sustenance, while their daughters are treated as commodities, offered for marriage to the highest bidder. 
Freshta (Three years old)

During the US occupation, Freshta's family fled to the outskirts of the city of Herat escaping from war, and looking for better opportunities. Her father still has injuries that prevent him from living a normal life. ‘’Even if we were totally capable of working, there is no work for us to do’’  Freshta's father said. He survived a blast that made him lose a significant percentage of his sight.

A neighbor that was present during the interview told us ‘’we used to get help from the previous government, but after the Taliban regained power, nobody helps us’’. He explained how the Taliban have stopped different organizations from providing aid to his IDP camp. Different NGO workers commented that the Taliban government has been restricting their operations in Afghanistan by deciding where the aid is directed to or, in their latest move, forbidding women from working in these organizations, disproportionately affecting women in need who are often only accessible by other women. 

Because of this increasingly harsh situation, the father is forced to offer his daughters for sale to whoever wants to marry them, ‘’We are very worried about our girls marrying an abusive man, the Taliban would not do anything if this happens’’. ‘’Whatever will happen is in Allah’s hands’’ Freshta's father concluded.

Habida (11 years old)

Mohammad, Habiba’s father, has a debt of 40,000 Afghani (460 USD). To put things into perspective, locals told me that with that amount of money, one of these families could survive for about eight months. Because of the debt and the worsening economic situation in Afghanistan, Mohammad is forced to offer his kidney and daughter for sale. ‘’The security situation has improved since the Taliban came, but now it is impossible to find a job’’ he added.

‘’My boys go to the city to collect trash, if they work, each one of them receives about 100 Afghani (1,15 USD). If they do not work, we do not eat that day’’ Mohammad said, as he mentioned that they only had tea that morning for breakfast. Mohammad expects to get 1,000 dollars for his kidney and about 2,000 dollars for his daughter Habiba. ‘’We do not want to do it, but we have no other option, we have to eat’’ he said. Habiba then told me ‘’I am happy to see you here, but our situation is not good, we do not have any food’’. Mohammad concluded the interview by saying that ‘’I would like her to go to school but we are very poor’’.

Omar Hamed Beato

I am Omar, a visual journalist from Spain who loves creating stories in written, photo, and video formats.
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