Even before the Taliban took over in August, Afghanistan was in a bad way, says Christina Lamb in The Sunday Times. People burnt cowpats for heat, fetched water from wells and sent children to schools with no walls. More than 75% of the country’s budget came from aid. But with the Taliban now in power, that aid has dried up – and Afghanistan “has been pushed further toward the abyss”. The UN says only 5% of Afghans have enough to eat, while 50% face “extreme hunger”. Families in Kabul are selling kettles and mattresses just to put food on the table. Shockingly, some are so desperate that they are selling their children. Last week the BBC reported that a couple in Herat had given away their baby girl for $500.
The West is keen not to make too much of this: its leaders “want to forget the humiliation of losing to the Taliban”. The US has stumped up just $144m of aid since August – “a start but nowhere near enough”. Our leaders need to get over their wounded pride and accept that the Taliban are now in charge. Because “if the international community don’t engage, millions will die of hunger as we watch”.