tirsdag 21. september 2021

Afghanistan: Fighting off hunger under the Taliban

Kabul is a city still waiting for its new life to take shape - a lot depends on the will and whims of its new Taliban masters. But it is hunger that could become the worst of Afghanistan's many crises. For the poor of the city, the majority, scraping together a few hundred Afghanis, a couple of dollars, to stave off starvation is the biggest challenge.

Millions live in desperate poverty in a country that has received huge sums in foreign aid. The money left over that might help them, around $9bn in central bank reserves, is frozen by the Americans to keep it away from the Taliban. At dawn, hundreds of construction workers gather in one of Kabul's open-air markets with their tools looking for a day's work.

Big building projects in the city have stopped. The banks are closed. The foreign money tap has been turned off. What is left amounts to a few drips. A handful of the construction workers get picked up for work. The rest are getting angry. One of the men, Hayat Khan, raged about the fortunes stolen by a corrupt elite in the last 20 years. "Wealthy people think about themselves, not the poor. I can't even buy bread. Believe me I cannot find a single dollar and the rest of the rich people put the aid dollars from the West in their pockets. "No-one cares for the poor people. When aid comes from outside, the people in power made sure it went to their relatives, not to the poor."