Senator Rand Paul to introduce legislation to cut all US aid to Afghanistan

FILE PHOTO: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2022. Source: REUTERS

US Senator Rand Paul has introduced legislation to cut the cash aid sent by the Biden administration to Afghanistan. In the two years since the Taliban regained control of the country, the United States has provided aid worth $2 billion to the country.

However, on Tuesday, Paul said in a post on X: “I have introduced legislation to stop all funds from going to Taliban controlled Afghanistan. And will do so again this week!,” his post read.

Afghanistan’s people have been gripped in the clutches of a humanitarian crisis for two years. Millions are facing extreme levels of hunger amid worsening poverty levels, an economic crisis, and a severe shortage of funding for humanitarian aid.

Washington however has been providing lifesaving aid to the people of Afghanistan through USAID.

But, the thought of this assistance being stopped has people in Afghanistan worried and many people interviewed by Amu, called on the international community to continue their assistance.

Donor countries and organizations have already cut back substantially on funding on the back of escalating restrictions by the Taliban against women and girls in the country – including the ban of women working for local and foreign NGOs and the UN in Afghanistan.

Hamid Alami, a political analyst, said any cut in aid ahead of winter – which is particularly severe in many parts of the country – would result in a catastrophe.

“The US Congress representative can put pressure on their government to apply in the amount, manner and transparency of assistance. If this assistance and money is used in military and political paths, they should reconsider it,” he said.

An economist, Azeraksh Hafizi, said that the international community including the US has a responsibility to help the people of Afghanistan.

“If this assistance is suspended, we will end up in a disaster situation from the current crisis condition. Many people will face problems finding food, clothes and shelter,” he said. “The international community including the US should not leave the people of Afghanistan alone in the current situation and should make their assistance available transparently to alleviate the needs of Afghanistan.”

However, the question remains as to whether Afghanistan’s economy is benefiting from this assistance.

The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates 15 million people are facing food insecurity in Afghanistan. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs meanwhile reported that nearly 29 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Earlier this year, the US Inspector General for Afghanistan’s Reconstruction (SIGAR) voiced concerns over interference of the Taliban regarding the distribution of US aid.

In the latest quarterly report to Congress, SIGAR cited that the US has appropriated more than $2.35 billion since the fall of the former government.

“Taliban interference in humanitarian assistance is the main barrier to beneficiaries accessing aid in 2023 … there were a total of 110 access incidents related to Taliban interference in April 2023 alone,” the report read.

International donors immediately suspended development assistance to Afghanistan when the former government collapsed.