US sanctions caused mass civilian deaths in Iraq. Afghan civilians are up next.

By Jake Batinga, Truthout

One million Afghan children may die from starvation over the next several months, according to the United Nations. Nearly 23 million Afghans are facing “crisis levels of hunger” and 8.7 million are on the “brink of starvation.” This mass hunger has rendered millions of Afghans on the “verge of death,” according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Alongside looming mass starvation, Afghans face below-freezing temperatures, severe shortages of life-saving medical supplies, and extreme poverty, making conditions in Afghanistan among the gravest of human rights crises on Earth.

This is not a natural disaster, nor is it the result of conflict internal to Afghanistan. This a human-made humanitarian catastrophe. United States-made, specifically.

The U.S.-allied Afghan government, most recently under the rule of Ashraf Ghani, was heavily dependent on foreign aid. Following the Taliban takeover in mid-August 2021, the Biden administration and the UN Security Council instituted devastating sanctions, sharply reducing foreign aid. The Biden administration froze 9.5 billion dollars’ worth of Afghanistan’s foreign currency reserves, roughly equivalent to 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

An Afghan man sits with some children

Journalists Ryan Grim and Sara Sirota recently reported that the White House has “urged European partners and multilateral institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to similarly starve the nation of capital.” This has led to the total collapse of Afghanistan’s economy, creating “an almost globally unprecedented level of economic shock.” Unemployment has skyrocketed, and the country’s health care infrastructure has been decimated.

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