Western Policy and Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Devastation
Western Policy and Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Devastation
Podcast / Asia 1 minutes

Western Policy and Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Devastation

This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood and Naz Modirazadeh talk to Crisis Group Consultant Graeme Smith about Afghanistan and what can be done to prevent millions from falling into famine as winter approaches.

Afghanistan is on the brink of becoming the world’s worst humanitarian emergency. Western governments responded to the Taliban takeover in August by suspending aid, freezing state assets and imposing stringent sanctions regimes. The country’s economy was plunged into freefall as a result. Government salaries remain unpaid, the financial sector has collapsed and cash is in short supply. Millions of the country’s civilians struggle to access basic necessities and feed their families. The UN has already warned that half the country’s citizens are suffering from extreme hunger. Things only look set to get worse as winter sets in. 

This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Crisis Group’s Afghanistan expert Graeme Smith about this crisis and the responsibility shouldered by Western governments. They talk about the Taliban’s refusal to do much in the way of compromise on draconian policies so far, especially limiting education for girls and women, curtailing women’s right to work and shunning demands for political inclusion. They discuss the dilemma facing Western governments, Washington’s status as an economic gatekeeper, the role played by the Europeans and how Afghanistan’s neighbours have responded to the Taliban takeover. They ask what Western policymakers, particularly in Washington, should do to help humanitarian organisations operate effectively and alleviate the looming emergency.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore Crisis Group’s analysis on our Afghanistan page and keep an eye out for our upcoming report. 


Executive Vice President
Naz Modirzadeh
Board Member and Harvard Professor of International Law and Armed Conflicts
Senior Analyst, Afghanistan

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.