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Newspaper Reporter in Kabul Describes Afghans Starving, Freezing

Jan. 10, 2022 (EIRNS)—In what is certainly an unusual piece for the Washington Post, on Jan. 8, Pamela Constable reporting from Kabul described, with representative pictures and profiles, “a large, newly impoverished urban working class” whose households are, at best, buying a very little fuel or a very little food each day, and gradually freezing and starving. “Many lack solid shelter and money to heat their homes at night,” feeding shavings from one or two logs, or just some cardboard, into a stove to try to survive the night with temperatures well below freezing and getting colder. The home described and pictured with several children, is “frigid.” But the reporter quotes a seller of wood and coal in Kabul, who says, “People can’t afford to buy now, and we can’t afford to sell. The government has collapsed, people have no salaries, and the economy has gone to zero.” In other winters, “even ordinary people would take home 100 kilos [of wood] at a time. Today, I will be happy if I sell 20 kilos by dark.”

Most of the urban desperate, writes reporter Pamela Constable, don’t meet the criteria of the UN High Commission for Refugees, the main aid distribution agency besides the World Food Program. A spokesman says, “They’re not refugees. They haven’t been driven from their homes, but they have lost their jobs, they have no savings, and their life systems are in collapse.” In other words, they are being killed by the pen in Washington, D.C. “They are not on our lists, but they come and wait outside the distribution sites, saying ‘What about us?’ ”

Interesting is the note about the Taliban government, which although it

“has almost no means to help the poor, it has been coordinating closely with foreign aid programs, largely by providing armed escorts for supply trucks and security for crowded distribution sites. All supervisors and workers at the sites are Afghans. Officials who interact with the poor, such as needy people who come to the gates of the Refugees Ministry, also pass on their requests for help.”

A WFP spokeswoman in Kabul, speaking of its “value vouchers” deposited at local banks and given to impoverished families, says “Nothing goes to the government.”

The article’s conclusion is stated early: “The country’s new rulers, cut off from most international aid as well as Afghan government assets held in U.S. accounts, have no resources to protect millions of vulnerable people against another harsh winter.”

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