With the U.S. troop withdrawal well under way, the United States on Friday announced more than $266 million in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan as part of what it called an enduring U.S. commitment to the war-torn country.
The announcement comes amid unrelenting violence and a stalled peace process that are fueling fears that the departure of U.S.-led international forces is putting Afghanistan on a path to all-out civil war that could restore Taliban rule two decades after the Islamists were driven from power.
Officials of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, who ordered an end to the 20-year U.S. troop presence by September 11, have vowed to continue U.S. military and civilian aid to Kabul. But they warned it could be suspended if there is backtracking on progress made in human rights, especially those of women and girls.
“As the United States withdraws military forces from Afghanistan, our enduring commitment is clear. We remain engaged through our full diplomatic, economic, and assistance toolkit to support the peaceful, stable future the Afghan people want and deserve,” the State Department said in a statement.
The $266 million in new assistance brings to nearly $3.9 billion the total amount of such aid provided by the United States since 2002, the statement said.
The funds will help support some of the estimated 18 million Afghans in need, including more than 4.8 million who are internally displaced, 115,000 of whom have been driven from their homes by fighting this year alone, it said.
The funds, it continued, will go to providing shelter, job opportunities, basic healthcare, emergency food, water, sanitation, and hygienic services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also will support protection programs for “the most vulnerable Afghans,” including women and girls “facing particular risks, including gender-based violence,” it said.