“Afghanistan’s Still a Mess, Y’all! Top Aid Official Spills the Tea”

Climate change and the economic downturn continue to fuel the crisis in Afghanistan, and there have been no “encouraging developments” towards getting girls back into classrooms, a senior UN official said on Tuesday. 

Ramiz Alakbarov, UN Deputy Special Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, updated journalists in New York on developments in a country where 28 million people now depend on aid to survive. 

Immense humanitarian needs 

“Afghanistan remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in 2023, notwithstanding, of course, the recent devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria,” he said, speaking via videolink from the capital, Kabul. 

The UN and partners are seeking $4.6 billion this year to assist the Afghan population. 

Mr. Alakbarov reported that over the past 18 months, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by up to 35 per cent, the cost of a basic food basket rose by 30 per cent and unemployment by 40 per cent.   

Additionally, roughly 75 per cent of people’s income is now spent just on food. 

Advocating for girls 

Meanwhile, the UN continues to engage with the de facto Taliban authorities in the aftermath of edicts banning girls from attending secondary school and women from working with local and international aid agencies on the ground. 

“I regret to say that to date we haven’t seen any news or any encouraging developments with regard to girls’ education,” said Mr. Alakbarov.  “The UN continues to advocate for this.” 

Regarding humanitarian work, he noted that the Taliban have made exceptions for women’s participation in the health and education sectors following the visit by UN relief chief Martin Griffiths last month. 

“The health sector exemptions on female participation include not just medical services delivery in the facilities, but also psychological support, community-based health activities and nutrition. And it is applied to all females working in offices, hospitals, health centres, or mobile teams,” he said. 


Differences in education 

The situation is similar for women teachers, including in providing community-based education through non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Although applicable at the national level, there are “a lot more localized solutions” which vary from province to province. 

“Those localized solutions are always within the framework of what is the situation on the ground – that is availability of mahrams (male guardians), availability of gender-segregated transportation, and application of the chador or hijab,” he said. 

Interference and assurances 

Mr. Alakbarov was asked about Taliban interference in aid delivery. He said distributions were stopped in “severe cases”, which occurred in at least two provinces over the past four months. They resumed once the issues were addressed. 

“Most of the access incidents and what is leading to the temporary suspension of programmes these days, is related to the directives against Afghan women working for national and international NGOs, and those associated matters,” he said.  

“It’s not related to security issues, and we continue to enjoy quite a good physical access throughout the country,” he added. 

Mr. Alakbarov also addressed a question on how the UN ensures funding is not diverted to the Taliban. He outlined some of the risk management and mitigation mechanisms that are in place, such as payment verification systems and third-party monitoring. 

Full human rights 

Additionally, beneficiaries can also communicate with the UN through hotlines and other means, including “to raise complaints, or raise alarms, or be a whistleblower.” 

The senior aid official also was asked about reported divisions within the Taliban leadership over the education and humanitarian bans, but he did not think it would be helpful to comment. 

Instead, he stressed the need for the de facto authorities to ensure Afghan girls and women have the right to be full members of society, which includes being able to work, get an education, and access healthcare and other services. 



  1. It’s heartbreaking to see how the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, with climate change and economic challenges exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. The lack of progress in getting girls back to school is devastating. It’s crucial that more efforts are made to prioritize education and support the Afghan population in this critical time.

  2. Do you think international aid is effectively addressing the challenges faced by Afghanistan, especially in terms of education and economic stability?

    1. International aid plays a crucial role in addressing the challenges faced by Afghanistan, particularly in terms of education and economic stability. However, more efforts are needed to ensure that aid is effectively reaching those in need and making a sustainable impact on the ground.

  3. It’s truly disheartening to see the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan exacerbated by factors like climate change and economic challenges. The urgent need to support education, especially for girls, cannot be understated in rebuilding the country’s future. The statistics shared by Mr. Alakbarov highlight the dire circumstances faced by the Afghan population, emphasizing the critical importance of international aid and advocacy efforts. Let’s hope for meaningful progress in ensuring the well-being and rights of all Afghan citizens.

  4. Could you elaborate more on the specific challenges faced in getting girls back into classrooms in Afghanistan amidst the ongoing crisis?

    1. Hey EmilySmith, the challenges in getting girls back into classrooms in Afghanistan are multifaceted. Cultural barriers, security concerns, lack of infrastructure, and gender inequality all play significant roles in hindering access to education for girls in the country. It’s a complex issue that requires sustained effort and collaboration to address effectively.

  5. Is there any specific plan in place to address the growing economic challenges faced by the Afghan population?

    1. Hey Emily_Smith, from what I understand, the UN and its partners are actively seeking $4.6 billion this year to assist the Afghan population. This funding aims to address the economic challenges faced by the people in Afghanistan, where the GDP has declined by up to 35% and unemployment has risen by 40%. Let’s hope these efforts can bring some relief to the struggling population.

  6. It’s disheartening to hear that despite ongoing efforts, the situation in Afghanistan still remains dire, especially with the challenges posed by climate change and economic difficulties. We must do more to ensure that girls have access to education and that basic needs are met for the Afghan population.

  7. It’s deeply concerning to see the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan worsen due to climate change and economic challenges. The lack of progress in getting girls back to school is disheartening. We must prioritize humanitarian aid to address the immense needs of the Afghan population and support their recovery.

  8. It’s disheartening to hear that there are no positive changes for the girls in Afghanistan’s education system. The statistics shared by Mr. Alakbarov paint a grim picture of the current situation. We must continue advocating for the rights of girls to access education and work towards a more sustainable future for all Afghan citizens.

  9. It’s truly disheartening to see the stagnation in efforts to get girls back into classrooms in Afghanistan amidst the ongoing crisis fueled by climate change and economic downturn. We need to prioritize education for all to ensure a brighter future for the Afghan population.

  10. It’s truly disheartening to hear about the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, especially the setbacks in girls’ education. The statistics shared by Mr. Alakbarov paint a grim picture of the economic challenges facing the Afghan population. We can only hope for swift action and positive changes to tackle these pressing issues.

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