Development Assistance, Connectivity and Non-Traditional Security Issues

A Humanitarian and Economic Crisis

Among the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, disturbing reports emerged during the month of desperate Afghan families selling their underage daughters into marriage in order to survive.1 Deborah Lyons, the U.N.’s special representative for the country, warned that Afghanistan is “on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe” and its collapsing economy is heightening the risk of extremism. She said that the main cause is financial sanctions on the Taliban, which have led to the country’s GDP [Gross Domestic Product] contracting by about 40 per cent.

Prior to the Taliban seizing power, foreign aid accounted for around 45% of the country’s GDP and funded 75% of the government’s budget, including health and education services. Currently, Afghanistan’s $9.5 billion in foreign reserves are frozen in U.S. banks, and shipments of U.S. dollars have been stopped. According to an analysis by the U.N. Development Program, by the middle of next year, as much as 97% of the Afghan population could sink below the poverty line.

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