Crisis Group: Taliban’s oppressive rule is turning aid donors away

The International Crisis Group has warned that the Taliban’s oppression of women is negatively affecting the humanitarian support for Afghanistan. In a report published on Thursday, it stated that Western governments are becoming increasingly disenchanted with providing funding to aid agencies operating in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban’s obstructive policies will have grave consequences for aid agencies and the people they serve, but the far bigger worry is whether Western donors will keep footing the bill,” the report says.  

The report further added that “a popular set of options among Western officials to express the unacceptability of the Taliban’s policies involve new economic pressures that might include large-scale cuts to all forms of assistance, including humanitarian aid.”

Graeme Smith, the Crisis Group’s Senior Consultant on Afghanistan, believes that although the international community’s disapproval of the Taliban’s policies is understandable, a backlash from Western governments against them could also harm the Afghan people.

“Donors are turning away from Afghanistan, disgusted by the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s basic freedoms,” said Graeme Smith. “However, cutting aid to counter the roll-backs on women’s rights, will only make the situation worse for all Afghans,” he told Al Jazeera.  

| Editorial: Taliban leaders are exhausting the world’s goodwill toward Afghanistan
| Haqqani rejects lifting women ban: “A kilo or two of aid won’t solve our problems”
| Foreign Policy: Taliban leaders steal aid money

The Taliban’s decision last December to ban women from working as aid workers resulted in major humanitarian organisations, including some UN agencies, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Care International, Save the Children, and the Norwegian Refugee Council, suspending their operations. However, some operations in the health sector were resumed after the Taliban leadership agreed to make exceptions for female health workers.

The UN has recently said $2.59 billion was needed to provide food and agricultural aid to more than 28 million people in Afghanistan who are depended on aid for survival, with 6 million being on the verge of famine.

The Crisis Group report concludes that the Taliban is driving Afghanistan into “poverty and ignorance,” suggesting that senior figures in the group should bypass their supreme leader and find a better way of making decisions, instead of following the whims of a leader who has proven his determination to oppress women and block the rebuilding of his country. Until that happens, the future of Afghanistan looks bleak.”