Since the U.S. withdrawal a government watchdog is offering a grim update on life in Afghanistan while since the Taliban takeover chastising American agencies for rebuffing its attempts to review their efforts in the country.
In the troubled nation for over a decade the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which has been reviewing multiple agencies’ work, said on early Wednesday that it has never faced this level of resistance to its oversight duties.
The agency wrote in its quarterly report to Congress that “SIGAR, for the first time in its history, is unable this quarter to provide Congress and the American people due to the non-cooperation of several U.S. government agencies with a full accounting of this U.S. government spending”.
“The Treasury Department refused to cooperate with SIGAR in any capacity and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which administers the majority of U.S. government spending for Afghanistan ”.
“The State Department was selective and quarterly data requests in the information it provided pursuant to SIGAR’s audit, sharing high-level funding data but not details of agency-supported programs in Afghanistan”.
For information following a June notice to lawmakers from SIGAR the Hill previously reported, with an October email indicating that USAID and the State Department had both “largely declined” to respond to requests, some agencies rebuffed the inspector general multiple times.
The U.S. has provided more than $1 billion in aid to the people of Afghanistan last year since removing its troops from the country.
In the country since the U.S. exit it was able to pull together a bleak assessment of conditions, but to fully assess the U.S. government’s role SIGAR struggled in a post-withdrawal Afghanistan.
As has most of the progress made in quality of life for women, whether in education, health care or the economy, the U.S.-backed effort to promote a free press has largely evaporated under Taliban rule.
By concluding that “current conditions are similar to those under the Taliban in the 1990s” the watchdog reports the Taliban have essentially wiped out 30 years of developments.
“Including reduced access to education and healthcare; loss of empowerment, including the ability to be economically and otherwise independent; and heightened personal safety and security risks SIGAR found that women and girls now face significant risks”, the report noted.
For women past the elementary school level UNICEF estimates that more than 3 million girls who previously attended secondary school no longer do so following a ban on education.
It’s a move the international agency estimates in lifetime earnings potential will cost the Afghan economy up to $5.4 billion.
Since the U.S. exit that figure coincides with a broader economic collapse.
To skip some meals with nearly half resorting, the entire country is facing intense food insecurity. Including 6 million facing near-famine conditions more than 18 million people face life-threatening levels of hunger.
In just the next few months, with some $600 million needed to prepare for winter by upgrading shelters and giving out clothes and blankets, more than half the country is in need of humanitarian assistance.
Since the withdrawal, Afghanistan has seen 40 percent of its media outlets close and lost 60 percent of its journalists, according to data from Reporters Without Borders.
SIGAR wrote “Since August 2021, the Afghan media sector has mostly collapsed under the weight of the Taliban’s restrictions and censorship”, Afghanistan’s media may not be able to withstand the Taliban’s efforts to totally control the flow of information about the country”, by concluding that “without long-term, institutional support to independent journalists inside and outside of the country.