Since international troops left Afghanistan last year, there has been less reporting on the country today. But the situation on the ground is dramatic, says our correspondent: Many people in the country are starving. Some fathers of families try to sell their kidney out of desperation.
When the aid organizations that are still in Afghanistan warn, it is not alarmism, says Silke Diettrich, ARD correspondent for Afghanistan. 97 percent of Afghans could slip below poverty line this year, United Nations warns. And one in two people there are already going hungry.
When Silke talks to people on the ground today, she hears stories of pure desperation: family fathers try to sell their kidneys to somehow keep the family afloat, she reports. She also hears more frequently again that children, especially little girls, are being sold.
Silke Diettrich at the checkpoint with the Taliban shortly after they took power
With refugees in Mazar-e Sharif
At work in New Delhi
Poverty existed in Afghanistan before the Taliban took power, our correspondent reminds us, but it now has new dimensions: Even the middle class that had emerged over the past 20 years is now starving, she says. Salaries have not been paid for months.
More and more need in Afghanistan
She herself was also surprised at how quickly the Taliban came to power. Still, she believes, the withdrawal of international troops should have been different, more orderly. For those who had worked for the Americans and Germans, for example, the so-called local forces, it was a slap in the face, says Silke – they were simply abandoned.
In an interview with Sebastian Sonntag, the correspondent says she still keeps in touch with many people on the ground, including those who worked for ARD and were unable to escape. Many are hiding, she reports, constantly moving around, not staying in one place – for fear of the Taliban’s revenge. Silke feels bad about it, even though she couldn’t help at all.
But there are also things that have improved, she says. So you don’t have to be afraid that a bomb can go off everywhere and at any time. There are also regions where hardly any changes are noticeable, because the Taliban have always been there, she explains.
Security situation better – but at what price?
But the supply situation is dramatic. The Taliban government, which consists more of former fighters than bureaucrats, is not working, Silke says. And there is a lack of money:
75 percent of Afghanistan’s national budget consisted of aid, and those billions are now no longer available. In addition, the infrastructure is in a state of disrepair due to years of civil war and last year’s drought.
The only thing that can really help now is money, says the correspondent. But the international community is in a huge dilemma: it has left Afghanistan head over heels, and now there is a de facto Taliban regime there. Whether recognized or not, whether you want to negotiate with them or not – no one can get past them, she explains. To make matters worse, donations for Afghanistan are at a very low level.
In the Sunday interview, Silke Diettrich tells us a lot more: not least, she describes how dramatically the situation for women and girls is deteriorating. And how it was and is now to work as a correspondent in Afghanistan. For the whole conversation click on play above.
- 30. January 2022
- Presenter: Sebastian Sunday
- Interlocutor: Silke Diettrich, ARD correspondent for Afghanistan
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