Aid issues as Afghans sell their organs in failing economy

Daniel Greenman, 807 Editor

Some Afghans are selling their own organs for food money as the Taliban-led economy fails. A family with three brothers and two sisters all sold organs for near £1,150 each for food, reported Sky News. A husband and wife—who each sold a kidney to feed their eight children—are weighing selling one of them to avoid starving. The mother said “about six months ago, my three-year-old son died of hunger. I can’t see them all lose their lives… at least this way, someone else will feed them.” The father was ready to sell the children for 20,000 Afghanis, equal to £150-200. Many kidney sales are to Iran over the border, said Sky News.

Since the US left Afghanistan and the Taliban replaced Ashraf Ghani’s government last August, the economy has sunk and foreign aid has been largely blocked due to anti-Taliban policy. Over half of the 40 million Afghans face “extreme” hunger, and nearly nine million risk famine as of last December said the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees’ Babar Baloch. The UN also reported that over half a million Afghans have lost their jobs.

The New Yorker writes that half of Afghans need humanitarian aid to live, 20 million are at the edge of famine, and the UN Development Programme has said by midyear there could be “universal” Afghan poverty with 97% under the World Bank’s $1.90-a-day global poverty line. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mijahid told the New Yorker “There are some rumors and propaganda that the country is going through a crisis, and it is not correct,” citing “resources and ongoing works,” and “revenue collection which is enough for our government.” Aid dependence and failure to generate enough tax money hold back the economy as health care and education suffer.

UN World Food Programme head and former South Carolina Republican governor David Beasley said “The international community, the last twenty or thirty years, has done a disastrous job here—seventy-five percent of the economy is based on outside funding. Coupled with the corruption that was allowed from year to year to year.” Beasley wants the Biden Administration to “immediately release” over nine billion dollars it froze from the Afghan government after the Taliban takeover; the International Monetary Fund and World Bank also ceased funds there at that time. “If you unfreeze the money, you can put liquidity back into the marketplace, and the economy will start to come back up. If you don’t, we’re not going to need to feed twenty-two or twenty-three million people per month—we are going to need to be feeding thirty-five million people. . . This country will absolutely collapse.”

Last month, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said reports are “extremely, extremely concerning and that is why we have upped the level of humanitarian aid into Afghanistan and that is why we are working very hard with partners across the international community to secure peace and stability in Afghanistan.” President Biden was criticized last year by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which said “pragmatic U.S. engagement with the de facto [Taliban] authorities is […] key to averting unprecedented harm to tens of millions of women, children and innocent civilians.” Last December, Biden changed economic restrictions to let U.S. tax money fund Afghan “civil society” programs. The US sent $140 million in aid in October too, though the UN has judged that billions of dollars are needed to avoid famine this year. As of December, Taliban officials are not hindering UN agencies in any province for the first time in 20 years, though the Taliban has “carried out more than a hundred targeted killings and abductions of former Afghan officials, severely limited girls’ education, banned women from many workplaces, silenced local journalists, and beaten female protestors in the street with whips”, says the New Yorker.