Afghan citizens continue to decline into poverty and widespread hunger under Taliban rule

Patrick Done, News Editor

Last year, the United States ended its 20-year military occupation of Afghanistan, paving the way for the Taliban to once again seize power in the rural nation. The Taliban operated as a guerilla movement after the U.S. military overthrew their government in the wake of Taliban support for the 9/11 attacks. For the last 20 years, the Taliban have governed a relatively small region of Afghanistan, not having to deal with the bureaucratic administration necessary to run a fully functioning modern nation-state. But now, the Taliban must govern a nation with many unique struggles.

“More than 23 million Afghans face acute hunger, including 9 million who are nearly famished,” says the UNICEF World Food Program. Additionally, by mid-2022, the U.N. Development Program estimates that 97% of Afghanistan’s population will fall into intense poverty. The U.N. also estimates that almost 1 million children will starve in the nation this winter due to historic droughts. The United States has pulled 7 billion dollars in funding from Afghanistan, citing the Taliban’s violation of the U.S. withdrawal agreement, in which the Taliban pledged not to attack the legitimate Afghan government. President Biden, in recent statements, has pledged to divert the 7 billion in funds to 9/11 victims and other victims of terrorism. 

The Taliban is also dealing with incursions by ISIS-K, the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS). ISIS-K was responsible for the attack against U.S. troops at the Kabul Airport last year that resulted in the deaths of 182 people and the injury of 150 more. ISIS-K has taken issue with the Taliban’s ties with China, which currently oppresses millions of Muslim Uyghur Turks in the Xinjiang region. It has yet to be seen whether or not the Taliban will address these crises and gain recognition from the international community.