Ashot Sarkisyan: 'The economy is on the verge of complete collapse, Afghanistan is facing a large-scale famine'

The International Committee for Humanitarian Cooperation with Afghanistan has called on Russia and the United States to help the country under the control of the Taliban*

The editorial board of Realnoe Vremya received an appeal from the International Committee for Humanitarian Cooperation with Afghanistan to the presidents of Russia and the United States. The chairman of the committee, Professor Ashot Sarkisyan, asks Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the country under the control of the Taliban*. In his letter, he drew attention to the difficult socio-economic situation in Afghanistan and offered to unite to solve the humanitarian crisis. We offer the full text of the address of the head of the organisation to the leaders of the two powers.

Dear Leaders,

It is with great regret that we are observing the confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation, which has reached a dangerous point, and we consider decisive actions necessary to eliminate this danger, since it concerns the security of the whole world.

At the same time, events are taking place that could lead to the destruction of an entire nation. According to the UN, today Afghanistan is going through one of the worst crisis situations in the world, the country's economy is being on the verge of complete collapse, and Afghanistan is facing a large-scale famine. As emphasised by the executive director of the UN World Food Programme, David Beasley, “the next six months are going to be catastrophic. It is going to be hell on Earth.”

The reason is that the UN is experiencing an acute shortage of finances to provide humanitarian assistance to millions of Afghans, although about 9,5 billion dollars of the Central Bank of Afghanistan are blocked and the new authorities are denied the opportunity to use them. At the same time, growing economic problems, in turn, may lead to an increase in opium production, which may cause extreme concern not only to the states of the region, but also to the whole world. On top of all of this, the COVID-19 pandemic and a severe drought, which has destroyed a significant part of the crops in the country.

Thus, the situation in Afghanistan has acquired catastrophic proportions, and for the entire world community today, the primary task should not be reflections and discussions on the creation of an inclusive Islamic government, and only after that — the provision of economic assistance, but the immediate creation of conditions for the salvation of the people of Afghanistan.

The way out of this critical situation, in our opinion, would be to hold an international humanitarian conference on Afghanistan with the participation of the United States and NATO member states (responsible for the situation), the Central Asian states, Russia, Iran, China, Turkey, Pakistan and India — to discuss priority humanitarian problems and determine a realistic strategy for Afghanistan. The conference programme prepared by the International Committee was discussed and supported at the time by the warring parties, the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement*.

There are prerequisites for such actions — despite the desperate appeals of the UN, there is no unified strategy and unified actions of the countries involved in the Afghan process, and the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, it has all signs of a humanitarian catastrophe and threatens to get out of control and go beyond Afghanistan — to the Central Asian states, Iran (and through it to Turkey, the states of Europe and the South Caucasus), Pakistan and China.

Today, the United States of America and the Russian Federation have a unique opportunity not to confront, but to achieve progress in bilateral relations, since they are united by a common interest — countering and combating international terrorism, religious extremism and drug trafficking.

The International Committee appeals to President D. Biden and President V.V. Putin asks to head the patronage of the International Humanitarian Conference on Afghanistan, which will undoubtedly serve as a powerful impetus for launching the peace process in Afghanistan, and will also demonstrate the readiness of the United States and Russia to restore mutual trust.

Only the united efforts of the United States, Western countries and Russia can bring Afghanistan out of the critical situation. Common sense should prevail, and the United States, Western countries and Russia should return to the policy of strategic partnership, which would be welcomed by the whole world.

The International Committee for Humanitarian Cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, combining the efforts of representatives of civil society from many countries of the world, can assist the reconciliation process in the country and the way out of the crisis.

We took a very direct and active part in such processes — in the development and implementation of the public healthcare part of the policy of National Reconciliation in Afghanistan, aimed at establishing peace in the country and ending the fratricidal war (1987-1992).

For the entire international community, the transformation of Afghanistan into a stable and peaceful state that provides a decent life for its citizens, from which there are no threats, must become a strategic goal.

*The Taliban is a banned organisation in Russia, recognised as a terrorist organisation by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation as of 14 February, 2003.

Ashot Sarkisyan

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The author's opinion may not coincide with the position of the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya.

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