The U.S. government on Friday announced more than $266 million in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan while urging allies to contribute more generously to address the conflict-stricken country’s immediate humanitarian needs.
“This funding will allow our partners to provide lifesaving protection, shelter, livelihoods opportunities, essential health care, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services to respond to the needs generated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” the State Department said in a release.
The State Department added that the aid would help address protection needs for the most vulnerable Afghans, including “women and girls facing particular risks, including gender-based violence, as a result of the pandemic and decades of conflict.”
The announcement comes as the United States continues to wind down its military presence in Afghanistan to meet the Sept. 11 deadline for a full withdrawal, which has sparked fears of renewed conflict and a Taliban return to power.
Michael Johns, a former White House speechwriter and Heritage Foundation foreign policy analyst called for the United States to maintain an active role as a peace broker in the region.
“The greatest threat to peace and stability in Afghanistan is the Taliban seeing the departure of U.S. troops as an invitation to utilize military force in ways that undermine power-sharing and contradict the commitments it has made,” Johns told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. “That threat would be amplified considerably should any regional power assist the Taliban in such a pursuit.”
“The U.S. must reinforce that any effort to undermine the peace and stability of Afghanistan by Russia, China, Iran, or any other force would be viewed as an act of immense hostility against the U.S. and would be met with punitive measures,” he added.
In its announcement, the State Department signaled its continued engagement in a non-military capacity.
BY TOM OZIMEK