Pearl Jam, along with other musicians and celebrities, are uniting with a group of humanitarian organizations to urge the Biden administration to send emergency financial aid to Afghanistan — an effort that could help save millions of people from famine and restore basic social services in a country on the brink of collapse.
Together, they’re calling on the White House to resume the flow of international aid and allow people in Afghanistan to access financial resources. This essentially means easing the harsh sanctions that have been in place since the US left the country in August 2021.
A joint letter from the coalition of organizations asked for “global leaders to address the economic drivers of the hunger crisis by facilitating banking access for Afghans, and finding new ways to support the country’s critical services like hospitals, schools, and utilities.”
Members of the coalition include Alliance for Peacebuilding, CARE USA, Catholic Relief Services, Global Citizen, InterAction, International Rescue Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council USA, Save the Children US, War Child USA, and World Vision US.
Other notable names that have joined the effort include Pearl Jam and their Vitalogy Foundation, Tom Morello, Amanda Seyfriend, Thomas Sadoski, and Josh Klinghoffer.
We cannot let the Afghan people become casualties of the world’s inaction. As winter sets in, tens of millions of lives hang in the balance. Global leaders must do the right thing – before it’s too late. #AfghansCantWait. pic.twitter.com/pBLTilub1A— Pearl Jam (@PearlJam) January 11, 2022
“We have all witnessed how difficult it has been to wind down US involvement in Afghanistan but we can’t turn a blind eye now to the millions of families who are bearing the consequences,” Pearl Jam rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard said in a statement. “We have an obligation to support the Afghan people and to ensure our actions don’t make it even harder for them to access food and basic necessities.”
When the US withdrew its military from Afghanistan four months ago, it also ended funding to the country, blocked the incoming Taliban-led government from accessing its financial services, and froze state assets abroad.
The country’s economy, already in tatters from the war and struggling with the worst drought in decades, has nearly collapsed, creating the conditions for what has been called the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
More than half of the country, or 22.8 million people, face life-threatening food insecurity, and 8.7 million people face famine. More than 131,000 children could die in the weeks and months ahead simply because they lack food.
“We are seeing that under a frozen financial system, looming economic crisis, and Taliban rule, many families will not survive the winter,” said Sam Worthington, president of InterAction, the largest alliance of US-based non-governmental organizations in the world, which organized the joint letter.
While the US government is ostensibly using sanctions to signal to the Taliban that it will not tolerate human rights abuses, the set of policies is causing tremendous suffering for ordinary people. Among other issues, the sanctions prevent lifesaving aid from reaching vulnerable communities, bar Afghan citizens from accessing financial resources, and dramatically limit the new government’s ability to fund social services like health care.
Ultimately, experts explain that the women, children, and families living most precariously in a state of poverty, who suddenly have no way of affording or accessing food and health care, are the most impacted.
“We cannot let the Afghan people become casualties of the world’s inaction,” the coalition wrote in the joint letter. “As winter sets in, tens of millions of lives hang in the balance. Global leaders must do the right thing — before it’s too late.”