Mar 9, 2009
After enduring 7½ years of a U.S.-led war, Afghanistan has been pushed down to become the poorest country in Southern Asia and the world’s fifth least-developed country. Overall, according to U.N. agencies, 20 million of the country’s 26 million inhabitants live under the internationally recognized poverty line. And this doesn’t count the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who still live in refugee camps in Pakistan and in Iran.
The most recent official unemployment statistics come from 2005, when 40% of the workforce had no job. Since then, countless factories have been closed down for lack of parts, lack of energy or due to attacks from resistance groups, not to mention U.S. bombing. According to some estimates, the jobless count reaches as much as 80% today in some urban areas.
Even in the most urbanized parts of the country, electricity is seldom available for more than a few hours a day, when it is available at all. In Kabul, the majority of the four million inhabitants, most of whom flocked to the capital in order to escape from the rural combat areas, live in squalid conditions, without drinking water or functioning sewage systems. Makeshift shanties stand in the middle of destroyed buildings caused by Western bombing.
The situation of women is especially dire. With the exception of a small minority of women among the better-off layers, little has changed in the condition of women. Afghan women have been pushed right back under the feudal yoke of Islamic fundamentalism. And the worsening material conditions can only mean worsening conditions for women. Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
Last July the U.N. and Oxfam launched an emergency 400-million-dollar appeal, warning that five million Afghans were threatened with “high-risk food insecurity.” However, so far, donors have contributed less than half of what is needed.
Washington spends 100 million dollars per day to occupy Afghanistan. Guaranteeing the survival of Afghanistan’s population would cost the U.S. only what it spends in four days of occupying the country. But neither Bush nor Obama has volunteered such funding.
And Obama now proposes to increase the destruction rained on Afghanistan.