No timeline for unblocking Afghanistan aid, Trudeau says

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said his government has no timeline for when Canadian aid groups will be able to respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

“We know how important it is to support the people of Afghanistan,” Trudeau said at a news conference in Ontario on Wednesday. “We will continue to look at how we can help.”

According to a report by Global News, aid groups have said that Canadian officials have warned them that purchasing supplies or paying a driver to deliver food to Afghanistan would incur taxes for the Taliban that could contravene anti-terrorism laws.

The Canadian government filed a response to the committee report last week, saying it “will consider measures, including legislative options,” but offered no timeline.

“Current counter-terrorism measures and legislation have the unintended effect of impeding legitimate humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan,” the Oct. 6 response reads.

Ottawa’s response also noted that “the government of Canada has no intention of recognizing the Taliban de facto authorities as the government of Afghanistan,” something that Trudeau reiterated on Wednesday.

Yet the Canadian prime minister has confirmed that Ottawa has been in regular talks with Taliban leaders since shortly after they took over Afghanistan, according to a report by CBC News last week.

The Canadian government has stressed that it can get aid to Afghanistan through the United Nations, even if Canadian organizations would not be able to do independent work on the ground.

“We are continuing to work with partners around the world, to help get needed humanitarian aid into Afghanistan despite the Taliban, and we will continue to do just that,” Trudeau said.

This comes as Afghanistan is facing a severe lack of food and medical supplies, complicated by international sanctions, two massive earthquakes and drought.

UNICEF has reported an increase in child labor and has said that more families are offering young girls for marriage in exchange for a dowry so they can purchase basic needs.