Unfair aid distribution in Herat
Photo: Etilaat Roz KabulNow

Taliban and aid agencies distribute aid unfairly, complain Herat residents

Some residents and civil society activists in Afghanistan’s western city of Herat complain of lack of transparency in humanitarian aid distributions, claiming that Taliban officials, local community representatives and aid organisations’ employees distribute relief packages to those with connections. 

Adam Shah, who is struggling to provide for his family by transporting good in a wheelbarrow in Nawabad neighbourhood of the city, complains that he had only received one package in the whole year, while others in the area had several. 

“I don’t think you can find a poorer man here than me. I should be helped. But only people with connections get put on the list and receive aid,” he said.

Adam Shah, sitting on his wheelbarrow, says aid distribution is unfair. Photo: Etilaat Roz \ KabulNow

Sofia, whose husband earns less than 150 AFN ($1.66) per day selling chickpea soup, says her family of seven, including four orphaned grandchildren, survive through handouts. “We have only had one aid package in the past four years,” she complains.

Sofia says aid packages are often delivered to those who have a stable economic situation. But she has failed get help despite repeated pleas to local officials and aid agencies.

Residents complain local representatives, Taliban officials and aid agencies are being selective on who gets aid. Photo: Etilaat Roz \ KabulNow

According to the UN, more than 28 million people Afghanistan depend on aid to survive and over 6 million are on the verge of famine, exacerbated by the Taliban’s restrictions on women, climate change and the economic collapse of the country after the group’s return to power.

Ishaq, who has a disability, lives in Pul-e-Rangina neighbourhood of Herat city. He too complains about aid packages not being distributed fairly. The local community representative responsible for registering names on the distribution list, he says, has refused to put his name on.

“The local representative has given eligibility cards to his own tribe only. I know people who don’t need aid and are well off enough to require aid, but have been given,” Isaq said.

Sayed Ahsraf Sadat, a civil society activist in Herat, confirmed reports of irregularities in the distribution of aid. He stated that complaints had been received alleging involvement of the Taliban, aid agency employees, and local representatives in the unfair distribution of relief packages. For Sadat, the aid agencies were being selective in their actions and Taliban officials were trying to distribute aid to families of their security personnel.

“Whoever has more power, receives more assistance,” Sadat said.