“The action of French NGOs in Afghanistan is always intended to be neutral, apolitical and non-religious”

Tribune. On August 15, 2021, without even fighting, the Taliban retook Kabul, to the amazement of the international community. After the fear of the first days, the new leaders took stock of the situation of the country they now govern: finances, education, health, food, security …

The structures of this state are weakened by nearly half a century of uninterrupted war. The result is a strong dependence on international humanitarian aid. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said this on October 13 in Doha in the columns of the World : the first challenge is that of the economy.

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Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other assistance associations are on the front line; some of them were born fifty years ago on these same Afghan lands. To avoid the collapse of the country, the Taliban cannot deprive themselves of this aid.

A terrible ethical choice

Tankred Stoebe, medical coordinator of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Afghanistan, repeatedly asserted that the Taliban asked the NGO to continue its health mission. Despite the horror of Sharia law that the Taliban are preparing to apply, Doctors Without Borders has agreed to work in this direction and has initiated a discussion on the modalities of its action.

Faced with certain outraged reactions from the Western world, we must not forget either the complexity of the situation on the ground or the specificity of the NGOs, confronted, in Afghanistan, with a terrible ethical choice: to stay and deal with the Taliban or to leave by abandoning populations when they are in dire need of assistance.

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Since the fall of Kabul, a large number of Western associations have been forced to leave the country or to ensure the departure of their expatriates. For those who remain, in addition to their own security, the challenge is to preserve the independence of the humanitarian action defended by French NGOs to continue to help those who need it. It is essential: poverty has neither passport nor party card.

With a spirit of solidarity and assistance

Since the invasion of the country by Soviet troops in 1979, a succession of crises and painful wars has turned Afghanistan into a country of humanitarian aid, giving rise to the emergence of NGOs which now have a global reach. Action Against Hunger (ACF), Solidarités International and Première Urgence Internationale are some outstanding examples.

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