Red Cross warns economic sanctions causing massive suffering in Afghanistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An internally displaced girl poses for a photograph outside her temporary home in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. (File photo by AP)

A top Red Cross official has warned that economic sanctions against Afghanistan are depriving millions across the crisis-wracked country of the basics they need to survive, voicing fury over the massive man-made suffering.

The economic sanctions “meant to punish those in power in Kabul are instead freezing millions of people across Afghanistan out of the basics they need to survive,” Dominik Stillhart, operations director at the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in a statement on Monday.

“I am livid,” Stillhart said at the end of a six-day visit to Afghanistan, describing the situation in the war-torn as “absolutely infuriating.”

“It’s so infuriating because this suffering is man-made,” he added, according to AFP.

Afghanistan is facing what UN agencies have described as “one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters” since the collapse of Kabul in mid-August, which came after the United States’ disastrous withdrawal from the country.

The US military withdrew its forces from Afghanistan 20 years after they invaded the country to topple the Taliban, in a war that killed, according to one estimate, between 897,000 and 929,000 people.

Since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, the US and its allies have imposed sanctions on the Central Asian country and deprived Afghans of any aid and assistance on the pretext of pressuring the Taliban.

However, human rights activists maintain that economic sanctions generally do not punish the rulers, but rather, hurt the population, lead to mass starvation, and fuel extremism in the targeted country.

“Pictures viewed from afar of bone-thin children rightly elicit gasps of horror,” Stillhart said, adding that though that “when you’re standing in the pediatric ward in Kandahar’s largest hospital, looking into the empty eyes of hungry children and the anguished faces of desperate parents, the situation is absolutely infuriating.”

He also warned that “sanctions on banking services are sending the economy into free-fall and holding up bilateral aid,” adding that the current situation in Afghanistan heralds “a serious food crisis even before the worst of winter sets in.”

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