The IRC welcomes today’s move by the UN Security Council to provide a humanitarian exception in the Taliban sanctions regime, but argues more needs to be done urgently to alleviate suffering and avoid economic collapse in Afghanistan.

David Miliband, President & CEO of the IRC, said:  “The Security Council’s decision to introduce a humanitarian exception to sanctions on the Taliban is a critical step that will support humanitarian actors like the IRC to scale up and deliver lifesaving services to Afghans in need without fearing legal repercussions. This couldn’t come soon enough as 9 million people in Afghanistan are marching toward famine and Afghan families are bracing for an extremely tough winter. 

“While this move will enable an essential increase in humanitarian aid, this alone is not sufficient to stave off economic collapse and humanitarian unraveling. The suspension of foreign development aid flows to Afghanistan– which previously propped up 75% of all government spending–-has wiped out the government’s ability to pay public servants and deliver desperately needed public services, including basic healthcare, to millions of Afghans. At the same time the freezing of Afghanistan’s financial assets and suspension of its International Monetary Fund (IMF) support has sent the Afghan economy into a tailspin, severely limiting the government’s ability to pay for basic goods such as medicines, fuel and food. 

“We have heard accounts of families taking to the streets to sell all their belongings just to get enough cash to buy food, young girls forced to marry to bring income into their family and children showing up in our clinics severely malnourished and on the brink of starvation. The suspension of foreign development aid flows, the freezing of Afghanistan’s financial assets and the suspension of IMF support are having a dire impact on ordinary Afghans who are struggling to access cash, healthcare, medicine and food. 

“The international community needs to move quickly, and take decisive steps to increase development aid and cash flows into the country to help the Afghan people. Afghans must not pay twice over for failures of the international community: first for war and now for neglect.”

The IRC began work in Afghanistan in 1988, and now works with thousands of villages across nine provinces, with Afghans making up more than 99% of IRC staff in the country. As Afghanistan struggles to recover from ongoing conflict and natural disasters, the IRC: works with local communities to identify, plan and manage their own development projects, provides safe learning spaces in rural areas, community based education, cash distribution provides uprooted families with tents, clean water, sanitation and other basic necessities, and helps people find livelihood opportunities as well as extensive resilience programming.   

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 About the DEC: When large-scale disasters hit countries without the capacity to respond, the DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently. In these times of crisis, people in life-and-death situations need our help and our mission is to save, protect and rebuild lives through effective humanitarian response. The DEC’s 15 member charities are: Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.   

Thirteen of the DEC’s 15 members are responding in Afghanistan, either directly or through national affiliates or trusted local partners and will receive funds from this appeal. They are Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.   

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