Afghanistan marks 1 year since Taliban capture as disasters intensify

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban on Monday marked a year since they seized Afghanistan’s capital in a swift takeover that led to a hasty flight of the nation’s Western-backed leaders, sending the stuck and fundamentally changed the country.

Bearded Taliban fighters, some with rifles or white banners about their movement, staged victory parades on foot, on bicycles and on motorbikes in the streets of Kabul. A group had marched past the US Embassy before, chanting “Long live Islam” and “Death to America.”

A year after the dramatic day, much has changed in Afghanistan. Former insurgents struggled for power and remained isolated internationally. The economic downturn has plunged millions of Afghans into poverty and even starvation, as the flow of foreign aid has slowed to a trickle.

UN humanitarian chief for Afghanistan warns that unless donors provide $2.6 billion, the country will soon face “pure disaster” next winter with millions of lives is under threat.

Ramiz Alakbarov said in a virtual press conference from Kabul that the UN’s $4.4 billion humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan this year received only about $1.8 billion, leaving a gap $2.6 billion in desperately needed food and aid funding.

He said about 35 million people are living in poverty, and 6.6 million people are classified as an emergency just a step away from hunger.

Alakbarov said he had just visited several hospitals and saw “heartbreaking scenes” of malnourished children who would not be able to survive the winter without extra support.

While the people of Afghanistan are known for their resilience and survival ability, he said, it is unfortunate that “negative coping strategies” including selling organs and selling children will be seen again “if unsupported”.

Meanwhile, hardliners appear to waver in the Taliban-led government, which has imposed severe restrictions on access to education and employment for girls and women. , despite initial promises to the contrary. A year on, underage girls are still banned from school and women are required to cover their heads from head to toe in public, exposing only their eyes.

Some are trying to find ways to keep education from stagnating for a generation of young women and underground schools in families have sprung up.

Natalia Kanem, executive director of the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, said in a statement that Afghan women must not be forgotten.

“As the world faces many overlapping crises, we must not forget about women and girls,” she said.

A year ago, thousands of Afghans flocked to Kabul’s international airport to flee the Taliban amid a chaotic US troop withdrawal from Kabul after 20 years of war – America’s longest-running conflict.

Some flights resumed relatively quickly after those tumultuous days. On Monday, several commercial flights were scheduled to land and take off from a runway that last summer saw Afghan men cling to the wheels of planes taking off, some falling. death land.

Schoolyards were empty on Monday when the Taliban announced a public holiday to mark what they called “August 15 Pride Day” and “First Commemoration of Return to Power”.

Abdul Wahid Rayan, head of the Bakhtar News Agency run by the Taliban, wrote: “The reliance on God and the support of the people brought great victory and freedom to the country. “Today, August 15, marks the victory of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan against the US and its allies in occupying Afghanistan.”

During a gathering to mark the anniversary, the Taliban’s deputy prime minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, offered congratulations to “the entire nation on the day of the conquest of Kabul, the day when the complete end of the occupation began.”

In speeches broadcast live on state radio and television, he boasted of what he described as “great achievements” under the Taliban, such as ending corruption, improve security and ban the cultivation of opium poppy.

On the eve of the anniversary, former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani defended what he said was his decision to flee in a split second, saying he wanted to avoid the humiliation of surrendering to insurgents. He told CNN that on the morning of August 15, 2021, with the Taliban at the gates of Kabul, he was the last person present at the presidential palace after his guards disappeared.

Tomas Niklasson, the European Union’s special envoy to Afghanistan, said the bloc of nations remained committed to the Afghan people and “stability, prosperity and lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region”.

This will require an inclusive political process with the full, equal and meaningful participation of all Afghan men and women and respect for human rights, Niklasson writes.


Faiez reported from Islamabad. Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed in Islamabad and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

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