The risk of a new crisis in Afghanistan

Thursday, 2021-10-21 08:43:41
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A family from Afghanistan walk next to a fence to cross into Pakistan at the Friendship Gate crossing point, in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan September 6, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – Political and security instability has dragged the economy down in Afghanistan with a forecasted decline of up to 30% in 2021, raising fears of exacerbating the existing humanitarian crisis.

The influx of Afghan refugees into neighbouring countries and Europe has left the West with difficult choices in terms of how to intervene to prevent a humanitarian crisis amid the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan.

With non-humanitarian aid halted and foreign assets largely frozen after the Taliban seized power in August, Afghanistan’s aid-reliant economy “faces severe fiscal and balance-of-payments crises”, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said, adding that the resulting drop in living standards threatens to push millions into poverty and could lead to a deepening humanitarian crisis.

The chaotic situation is likely to have an economic and security impact on the region, spur an increase in refugees, and place a burden on public resources in host countries. The neighbouring countries of Afghanistan and Europe have raised concerns about the influx of refugees which could increase pressure on the labour market and lead to social tensions, further complicating the migrant crisis.

In addition, the difficult economic situation in Afghanistan may affect neighbouring countries in the field of trade as exports to Afghanistan are macroeconomically and socially relevant for Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The IMF has warned that the exchange of goods in Afghanistan is likely to raise new concerns over money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Afghanistan is struggling with severe drought and poverty after decades of war and witnessing its economy on the brink of collapse. European countries are all concerned that the risk of Afghan refugees trying to reach the European Union (EU) countries will repeat such “tragedy” as the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis. The proposal to reopen Afghanistan's accounts abroad to help defuse the crisis have been made, but both the US and the EU are cautious.

The US is looking for ways to bring humanitarian aid to the people in Afghanistan. The EU has announced a EUR1 billion aid package to avoid a major socio-economic and humanitarian collapse in Afghanistan, but whether or not it will reach the people without going through the interim government is unclear.

Although the Taliban government has actively promoted diplomatic efforts to gain early recognition from the international community as well as drastically deploying support activities to avoid a humanitarian disaster, the international community remains doubtful and fears an emerging crisis involving Afghan refugees.

MY VAN/Translated by NDO