How can we deliver aid to the Afghan people who are in need while maintaining a certain distance from the interim Taliban regime in Afghanistan?
Now is the time for the United Nations to take the lead in addressing this issue. The cooperation of the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, who are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, is essential for this.
Two months have passed since the Islamist Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. Government institutions are still not functioning properly, and the economy is still in a state of paralysis.
The cause lies with the Taliban. The interim cabinet is far from being the “inclusive government” it had promised to be, as it has not promoted the personnel and women in the previous government. It is unclear whether or not it will be able to sever cooperation with international terrorist organizations and guarantee women’s rights.
Countries including China and Russia, which have relatively close relations with the Taliban, as well as Western countries that are critical of the Taliban, are carefully assessing the Taliban’s actions. Not a single country has recognized the interim government.
In this context, we should not overlook the growing seriousness of the plight of the Afghan people.
Foreign aid has been cut off, civil servants have not been paid and public services have largely been suspended. Cash withdrawals at banks have been restricted. The number of people lacking food is said to be as high as 14 million. A humanitarian crisis is imminent before the coming harsh winter.
The Group of 20 industrial and emerging-market nations held a special summit meeting online and agreed upon the urgent need to provide assistance to Afghanistan. The European Union and Japan have pledged about $1.2 billion and $200 million, respectively.
It was a natural decision to put aside the issue of the Taliban’s recognition for the time being and extend a helping hand from a humanitarian standpoint. The worsening situation could lead to the formation of terrorist organizations and a massive outflow of refugees.
The question is how to provide aid. The U.S. must not allow aid supplies to be diverted to the Taliban. The U.S. says it will deliver the aid directly to the people through international organizations. Otherwise, it will be difficult to ensure transparency while the embassy staff and others evacuate.
The Taliban must allow free entry and exit for those involved in the relief effort and ensure the smooth transportation of goods. This is an important step in revitalizing the economy and gaining public support and approval from other countries.
It is regrettable that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not participate in the G-20 meeting, revealing a lack of alignment with Japan, the U.S. and Europe.
Dealing with humanitarian crises is a common challenge for the world. China and Russia should distinguish this from their political rivalry with the U.S. and work together to achieve stability in Afghanistan.