08/30/2021 Afghanistan (International Christian Concern) – Afghanistan is in a dire situation. Prior to the withdrawal of U.S. troops, many Afghans lacked basic sustenance. According to Time Magazine, “The United Nations estimates that as many as 18 million Afghans—nearly half the country’s population—need urgent humanitarian aid, including food and housing.” The Afghan Christian minority are in a worse situation because they face threats of discrimination, torture, and death, daily. With the U.S. gone from the country, non-governmental organizations will have to work alone, and will be the last life-line to persecuted Christians inside of Afghanistan. NGOs play a vital role in funding and performing global aid to hurting people all over the world. Often, NGOs partner with the U.S. government to double relief efforts that could not be accomplished alone. As an example: throughout the pandemic, food prices rose 30-40%, prompting organizations such as ICC to provide COVID aid in the form of food packages to underground Afghan believers. Though ICC focuses on Christian suffering, they are quick to help neighbors of other faiths, as well.
An article by NPR recently expressed that Afghanistan has been better-off since the Taliban was removed from power in 2001 because of the work of numerous NGOs which have helped expand education (especially for females) and medical care (which has greatly improved infant and child mortality rates). Christianity has also flourished within the country. One source told CBN News that Christianity in Afghanistan was practically non-existent 2 decades ago, when the U.S. took control. Up until a couple of weeks ago, the Christian population was estimated to be between 8,000-12,000. With new reports of martyrdom, numbers are now uncertain.
On August 15, 2021, the Taliban—a radical Muslim terrorist organization—took control of the country of Afghanistan after losing control to the U.S. military in 2001. According to the BBC, the Taliban was born out of northern Pakistan in the early 1990s after the withdrawal of Soviet forces created the environment conducive to their rise. During its inception, the Taliban promised to bring peace and safety to Afghanistan by mandating a pure form of Sunni Islam, and was mainly funded by Saudi Arabia. The BBC continued: by 1998, the Taliban spread throughout nine tenths of the county; and, “also banned television, music and cinema, and disapproved of girls aged 10 and over going to school. They were accused of various human rights and cultural abuses.” Eerily, Taliban leaders are again promising security, stating that “There is a huge difference between us now and 20 years ago.” Only time will tell whether the Taliban’s words translate into action; however, multiple sources continue to report actions against Christians and other religious minorities; many suspect conditions will become much worse without U.S. military oversight.
Without the U.S. government’s partnership inside the region, NGOs are the only source of relief for minorities, including Christians. In reference to non-Christian focused organizations: the real danger, according to NPR, is if NGO workers quit for lack of security. Organizations such as Doctors Without Borders—who enjoy a more favorable relationship with the Taliban than other groups—even stated that they will vacate the country if the Taliban begins dictating who can and cannot be treated based upon its radical ideology.
Christians often understand the risks involved in ministering to those in dangerous countries and may eventually be the only demographic of individuals remaining that is willing to lay down their lives for the sake of those left behind. Therefore, U.S. legislators should consider continued and increased financial support to faith-based NGOs who are willing to provide humanitarian relief to those in Afghanistan and people of persecuted religions around the globe. By promoting and backing financial measures aimed at humanitarian assistance, the U.S. government can still help the vulnerable people of Afghanistan.
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