The White House said Tuesday it will provide $308 million in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, as the country teeters toward a full-scale humanitarian crisis and economic collapse under the Taliban.
In addition, the U.S. will send 1 million additional COVID-19 tests to the country, which has been in a tailspin since the Taliban government took over following the U.S. military withdrawal in August.
The new assistance will come from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and flow through independent humanitarian organizations, White House spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement. It will be used to provide shelter, health care services, winterization assistance, emergency food, aid, water, sanitation and hygiene services.
“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people and we continue to consider all options available to us. We stand with the people of Afghanistan,” Ms. Horne said.
Since the Taliban seized power, a severe drought, rising COVID cases and economic instability have plunged the country into a crisis. Nearly three-quarters of its population live in acute poverty, according to the United Nations.
“The United States continues to urge the Taliban to allow unhindered humanitarian access, safe conditions for humanitarians, independent provision of assistance to all vulnerable people, and freedom of movement for aid workers of all genders,” the USAID said in a statement.
Without international aid, millions of Afghan children face acute hunger and 8 million are facing starvation, the U.N. said. Nearly 80% of Afghanistan’s previous government’s budget came from international aid, which has been cut off since the Taliban gained control of the country.
Since October, the U.S. has provided the Afghan people and refugees more than $782 million in aid, making it the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.