On invitation of the Secretary General of the United Nations, representatives of around 40 states have come together in a hybrid conference in Geneva on 13 September 2021 and declared their willingness to provide around 1.2 billion US dollars for emergency humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his country would provide 100 million euros for emergency aid and promised another 500 million. António Guterres was very pleased with the result. The UN itself had assumed an immediate need of around 600 million US dollars until the end of the year. According to UN figures, 93 per cent of households in Afghanistan do not have enough to eat. Basic services in the country are on the verge of collapse, he said.
Guterres also said he had received two letters from the Taliban leadership. One had assured the UN of full support and respect for the humanitarian work in the country. The other had stated that the Taliban were able to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers. Guterres stressed that the Taliban clearly want to cooperate with the international community.
Who is responsible for the damage in Afghanistan?
It has been noticed that the UN donor conference has been reported extensively and very positively, especially in the Western media. How should this be assessed? In this context, a few points need to be added.
The damage that Afghanistan and the Afghans have suffered over the past 20 years as a result of the war launched by NATO in violation of international law can hardly be quantified; it will amount to hundreds of billions. Lost and maltreated human lives cannot even be measured in dollars or euros or francs.
Nor is the current humanitarian situation of the people in the country a consequence of the new Taliban rule, but mainly of 20 years of war (among other causes such as a drought this year). An important principle within a national and international legal community is that those responsible for the damage must also be liable. In the past, people spoke of compensation (“reparations”) after wars. It is true that this has been abused time and again. But that does not change the justification of the principle.
In fact, Afghanistan would also be entitled to such compensation: Reparations by the NATO states and their fellow warriors. The first step would be an open admission of guilt.
But the NATO states do not show remorse, they continue to be loudmouthed
But we are far from that. On the contrary: the official representatives of the NATO states are not showing any remorse, but rather a loudmouthed and demanding attitude. For example, the online version of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” on 13 September stated: “The United States demanded a written commitment from the Taliban government to uphold the rights of aid organisations, women and minorities. ‘Words are not enough. We need to see action,’ said the American UN ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.” The German foreign minister and representatives of other NATO-EU states made similar comments.
The people of Afghanistan urgently need humanitarian aid. That’s where the 1.2 billion dollars until the end of the year are very important. But this sum is not a reason for a big media echo or even fulsome gratitude. Compared to the damage actually caused, 1.2 billion US dollars is a tininess. •
“According to figures from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar), the war has so far cost the Americans almost 1 trillion dollars*. Of this, the vast majority (837 billion) was spent on the war, 133 billion is reported as reconstruction costs. But even of the reconstruction costs, the largest part went into the security of the country. About 89 billion dollars were spent on training Afghan soldiers, the fight against drug trafficking and peacekeeping. About 36.3 billion (3.7 per cent of the total expenditure) was put into the development of the country, for example in infrastructure projects, social programmes or the health system. Here, too, part of the money went into the fight against drug trafficking. The US government’s expenditure on humanitarian aid projects was limited to 4.2 billion dollars.”
Source: "Wo die Billion Dollar geblieben ist, welche die USA in den Afghanistan-Krieg gesteckt haben”
(What happened to the trillion dollars the USA spent on the war in Afghanistan).
In: NZZ online of 23 August 2021
* The figures provided by various institutes differ greatly in some cases. For example, the US Watson Institute had calculated 2.26 trillion US dollars for the war costs alone for the years 2001-2021 (cf. Current Concerns No. 19/20 of 6 September 2021). However, which figures are correct is not decisive at this point, because we are concerned here with the scale of reconstruction aid for Afghanistan. (Editor’s note)
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