The Humanitarian Dilemma in Afghanistan
Humanitarian aid remains a critical lifeline for over 28 million people in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s regressive actions against women, including the ban against female aid workers in December 2022, is a challenge for international donors and aid agencies. In response to the Taliban's crackdown on basic human rights, several major international aid organizations paused their programming and insisted they will not continue to deliver assistance without female participation. Although few organizations have received assurances to resume operations under their standard principles in a part of the country, many have made critical cuts to their programming. This will not be the last time the Taliban tests core humanitarian principles, creating operational challenges and a dilemma for aid organizations–a struggle between providing lifesaving aid despite the Taliban's edicts or withholding funds and services in protest, knowing the impact on civilians.
Proposed solutions, including aid conditionality, an emphasis on direct cash assistance to affected populations, and reducing the government’s dependency on UN assistance, may provide short-term relief but will not address the underlying question of when and how international actors can effectively support the Afghan people without providing an unacceptable amount of support–political or otherwise–to the Taliban.
Please join the CSIS Project on Prosperity and Development and CSIS Humanitarian Agenda on Wednesday, March 1, at 10:00 a.m. ET, for a webinar evaluating the situation in Afghanistan and discussing steps to overcome the dilemma of humanitarian aid with featured panelists Najia Nasim, Executive Director, Women for Women in Afghanistan US, Janti Soeripto, President and CEO, Save the Children US, and William Byrd, Ph.D., Senior Expert, U.S. Institute of Peace.
This event is made possible by general support to CSIS.