Afghanistan collapse is worst UN has ever seen

·2 min read
An Afghan woman is wrapped with a blanket as she and her family camp outside the Directorate of Disaster that they camp, in Herat, Afghanistan, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. About 2000 internally displaced people left Allahyar village of Ghor province because of the drought that worsened their economic situation and asking help from the regional government in Herat.
An Afghan woman is wrapped with a blanket as she and her family camp outside the Directorate of Disaster that they camp, in Herat, Afghanistan, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. About 2000 internally displaced people left Allahyar village of Ghor province because of the drought that worsened their economic situation and asking help from the regional government in Herat.

Afghanistan's economic collapse is one of the worst in history and will see the country's wealth shrink by a fifth in the next year, the United Nations has said.

The speed of the country's financial meltdown dwarfs recent economic crises in countries such as Lebanon, Venezuela and Syria.

National GDP could fall by 20 per cent in the next 12 months after sanctions and the loss of foreign aid following the Taliban takeover tipped the country into free fall. The contraction could hit 30 per cent in the years after, a new forecast from the UN said.

“[It’s] an economic contraction that we’ve never seen before, ever,” Abdallah Al Dardari, the UN development programme’s Afghanistan head told the FT.

“I’m comparing with Venezuela, Lebanon and so on – we haven’t seen such an immediate, abrupt drop.”

Kanni Wignaraja, the UN agency's Asia director, said the sudden withdrawal of international aid had delivered an “unprecedented fiscal shock”.

She said: “It took more than five years of war for the Syrian economy to experience a comparable contraction. This has happened in five months in Afghanistan.”

Another UN source told AFP that, “in terms of population needs and weakness of institutions, it is a situation never seen before. Even...Yemen, Syria, Venezuela don't come close”.

Banning women from the workplace would greatly contribute to the economic devastation, UNDP predicted.

Any repeat of the Taliban's 1990s policy of depriving women of paid work in Afghanistan could fuel a GDP drop of up to five percent, representing a loss of wealth of $600 million to $1 billion.

The Taliban have allowed only a portion of female civil servants – those working in education and health – to return to work. Onerous restrictions on those who do return, including the need to be accompanied by a male chaperone, are expected to force many out of their jobs.

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