Northern Afghanistan: Lack of transparency alleged in aid distribution


BALKH: Afghan residents in northern Afghanistan level severe criticisms against the Taliban’s unjust distribution of humanitarian aid as the nation is struggling with an ever-increasing economic crisis. 
According to residents of the country, the humanitarian aid that flows to the country in the name of the needy people is distributed amongst the Taliban members and families. On top of that, the process is further tainted by ethnic and linguistic issues, which play a huge role in who gets the aid. 
Narges, a 45-year-old woman, is one of the 20 women queued up in front of the Taliban governor’s gate in one of the country’s northern provinces to submit her petition to receive aid. 
She invokes the name of God and the Holy Quran to one of the Taliban guards, pleading, so he accepts her petition. However, the young guard points an M4 rifle at her to push her away from the door.
As her efforts to receive some aid had been futile, Narges approached, without any introduction, one of the Afghanistan Peace Watch (APW) reporters. She urged the reporter to raise her unheard voice in the media. 
“Every day for three months, I have been going to the gate of the governor and the immigration department, but no one is willing to accept my petition. I have four children who need food; my husband is an old man who cannot work. They [the Taliban] take the aid themselves,” narrates Narges excruciatingly. 
Surprisingly, the Taliban leaders’ speech at the aid distribution event was the stark opposite of what was happening to the aid. They promised justice and implementation of the Islamic system, but the aid didn’t reach eligible people. 
APW sources in several relief organizations and the Taliban directorate of refugees in the country’s northern provinces also confirm that more than 60 percent of aid is distributed to Taliban members and their families. 
According to the sources, a list of soldiers of some Taliban officials already exists in the aid distribution offices and are prioritized as recipients. This menace similarly existed during the previous government.
Another reliable source said most of the less valuable aid is distributed to non-Taliban families while the Taliban keep valuable edible commodities and cash assistance. 
This source added that the valuable humanitarian aid is distributed in areas where Taliban officials and people reside.
Two other sources from the directorates of refugees in northern Afghanistan said that in some cases, the Taliban officials are pressurizing the non-governmental aid organizations that they should include their desired areas and people in aid distribution.
Besides public criticism, a handful of Taliban officials are also unsatisfied with the process. APW talked with an official at the Taliban’s de facto government about the unfair distribution of aid in northern Afghanistan, he said with a pitiful expression: “I didn’t fight for this; I am very afraid of God’s wrath that might descend on us.”
This comes as the US’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported a 60 percent increase this year in food insecurity in Afghanistan compared to 2021.
According to SIGAR’s recent food insecurity report, between June and November of this year, 18.9 million Afghans will face life-threatening hunger, and six million of them will meet dire conditions like famine.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA) also announced in its August report that 25 million people live in poverty in Afghanistan.