US Special Envoy to Afghanistan Visits Qatar

US Special Envoy to Afghanistan Thomas West is traveling to Qatar next week to meet with the Taliban leaders. West told VOA that America is very concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Conditions are bad in many parts of Afghanistan. The United Nations World Food Program states that almost 60 percent of the population of 24 million is starving.

State Department spokesman Ned Price stated that America’s Special Envoy Tom West will discuss America’s vital interests, counter-terrorism and humanitarian aid with Taliban leaders in Doha for two days.

West told VOA that the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is linked to the interruption of international aid. Afghanistan’s economy has been around for more than 20 years, relying heavily on that aid.

“75 percent of the former government’s public spending came from foreign donors. 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product was also provided by foreign donors. Indeed, for years, we have told our allies and partners to the Taliban that if they come to power by force, this aid will cease to exist, and that is what is happening now.”

Recently, the Taliban’s foreign ministry spokesman called on the US Congress to release Afghanistan’s frozen assets after they took over the country. The spokesperson states that the economic difficulties in the country may lead to a large migration and refugee problem for other countries. West, on the other hand, sends the message that releasing aid is not as easy as the Taliban think.

“There are very complicated legal reasons, there are judicial reasons why this money can’t go from certain banks to other regions,” West says.

There has been some progress at the local level regarding the demands of the American and international community from the Taliban regarding human and women’s rights. Girls aged 7-12 were allowed to go to school again in Herat, the country’s third largest city.