The United States will send $308 million to Afghanistan for humanitarian aid, White House national security council spokesperson Emily Horne announced in a Tuesday statement. The announcement comes more than four months after the U.S. ended its longest war by withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.
“The new humanitarian assistance by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will directly flow through independent humanitarian organizations and help provide lifesaving protection and shelter, essential health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services,” Horne said in the statement. She added that the U.S. will send Afghanistan 1 million additional vaccine doses “in response to the growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by COVID-19.”
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has left the country in a state of disarray. Before the withdrawal, Afghanistan had relied on other countries for 80% of its government’s budget. With that money gone, the country has struggled to finance hospitals, schools, factories and government ministries. State employees haven’t been paid in months, and banks have restricted how much money account holders can withdraw.
The United Nations said 22% of Afghanistan’s 38 million people are living near famine and another 36% are facing acute food insecurity. On Monday, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator called for $4.4 billion in aid to go to the UN’s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan.
“This is the largest ever appeal for a single country for humanitarian assistance, and it is three times the amount needed, and actually fundraised in 2021,” Martin Griffiths said. “Without this being funded, there won’t be a future. We need this to be done, otherwise there will be outflow, there will be suffering.”
The Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has been a frequent point of criticism from Republicans.
“The president refused to listen to his own generals and the intelligence community who warned him precisely what would happen when we withdrew,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) said at a September hearing featuring Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “This was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions.”