One Kidney Village
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan continues to worsen after Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15. The cash-strapped Taliban regime is struggling to meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan population, already stricken by decades of war. And with $7 billion in Afghan assets, parked at the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, virtually frozen, the crisis is only getting worse by the day. According to reports, around 23 million Afghan citizens are on the brink of starvation, including millions of children who cannot even crawl or stand due to extreme hunger and malnutrition. One million of these starving children, according to a UNICEF report, face the risk of death. It is feared that the number of deaths due to difficult economic circumstances could exceed the number of lives lost during the 20 years of conflict.
With unemployment, hunger and debt so prevalent in this war-torn country, it is extremely difficult for ordinary Afghans to survive. So much so that many of them are now forced to sell their kidneys – for as little as $1,500 – to afford to feed their families or pay off their debts. According to the AFP news agency, the practice of selling kidneys is so prevalent in the western city of Herat that a nearby settlement is infamously nicknamed “kidney village”.
This is indeed a catastrophic situation requiring urgent global attention. Unfortunately, the much-needed humanitarian response is overtaken by strategic interests. Recently, the World Bank announced more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, to be disbursed through UN agencies and international NGOs. However, it is necessary to ensure that the money reaches the people who pay for the weapons and the citizens of Afghanistan as soon as possible. In addition, the response must be complemented by increasingly large funds.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4and2022.