Ethiopia: War in Tigray – Background and state of play Eric Pichon. 2022 12 9. Think Tank European Parliament. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document/EPRS_BRI(2022)739244 https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2022/739244/EPRS_BRI(2022)739244_EN.pdf War in Ethiopia Center for Preventive Action. 2023 3 31. Council on Foreign Relations. https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-ethiopia Tigray War Fast Facts CNN Editorial
“So if there’s enough food to go around, why has the global trend toward lower levels of hunger recently reversed? “As of today, the world has no global shortage of food, but food is quite expensive and people’s wages have not adjusted yet,” said David Laborde, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. “The main issue is that we have problems moving this food around, either due to the war or export restrictions.”
As a result, world food prices reached an all-time high earlier this year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The price increases are the result of a concatenation of events stemming from the disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including price increases in fuels and fertilizers and blocked grain exports. In addition, the WFP notes, “Conflict is still the biggest driver of hunger, with 60 percent of the world’s hungry living in areas afflicted by war and violence.”
In a world with more than enough food to feed everybody, despotic governmental brutality and stupidity are once again causing famines.”
“Prior to the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the Afghan economy relied heavily on foreign aid; after the Taliban takeover, that influx of cash ceased. Under Taliban rule, unemployment is rampant and banks operate intermittently, with people able to withdraw no more than $100 in a month. On top of that, the US froze much of the $9.4 billion in Afghan currency reserves in Afghanistan’s central bank in August — a move which has functionally cut the country off from many foreign banks and left the Central Bank of Afghanistan unable to access its reserves and shore up the country’s cash flow.
Now, much of the country is facing poverty and starvation: In December, the World Food Program (WFP) found that 98 percent of Afghans aren’t getting enough to eat, and Guterres warned this month that “we are in a race against time to help the Afghan people.””
“Many of Afghanistan’s current problems are intimately connected to the US withdrawal from the country last year, and the Taliban’s ensuing takeover of the central government. Since then, US sanctions and an abrupt end to international aid have wrecked Afghanistan’s economy and sent it spiraling into crisis.
The US and the UN have made some concessions to allow humanitarian aid to operate outside the auspices of the Taliban; the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) granted some licenses to aid groups to operate in Afghanistan without running afoul of financial restrictions on other individuals and institutions in the country.
But, as experts have said, it’s not nearly enough to bring the Afghan people anywhere close to the needed aid, and regardless of the OFAC licenses, the Afghan banking system is still essentially held hostage by US sanctions against the Taliban.”
“The chilling effect of sanctions is keeping businesses and banks from actually engaging with the economy. As House Democrats pointed out in their letter last month, relatively simple steps — like issuing letters to international businesses assuring them that they are not violating US sanctions — could help alleviate the crisis and shore up the Afghan private sector, but the US Treasury has yet to do so.”
“In the meantime, the Taliban will hold talks this coming week with Western nations, including Norway, the UK, the US, Italy, France, and Germany, about humanitarian aid. The talks should not be seen as a legitimization of Taliban rule, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stressed to AFP on Friday, “but we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster.””