Canada is facing a “dilemma” when it comes to providing humanitarian aid in Taliban-run Afghanistan, experts say.
On one hand, aid is needed to help Afghans who are facing an economic collapse, food shortages and a crumbling health-care system.
On the other hand, Canada wouldn’t want to provide aid that would help strengthen the Taliban, said Aurel Braun, professor of international relations and political science at the University of Toronto.
“If we send food, which seems not unreasonable, how can we assure that the food doesn’t go to feed the Taliban soldiers and the terrorist regime rather than the population?” he told Global News.
“We are facing the kind of classic dilemma that occurs when you’re dealing with terrible regimes.”
The issue of humanitarian aid faced world leaders on Tuesday during a special G20 meeting. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who led the meeting, told reporters at a news conference that leaders unanimously agreed about the need to tackle the humanitarian crisis.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was part of the meeting, and a senior government source told Global News he said the Taliban must let humanitarian assistance continue in an unfettered way. He also brought up the need to push the Taliban to respect Afghans’ rights, especially women and girls, and urged countries to accept more refugees.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that 18 million Afghans — half the country’s population — will be impacted by the crisis, and joined the meeting to emphasize the United Nations’ role as many countries don’t want direct relations with the Taliban.
For those countries set on providing aid, there are other avenues, said Joseph Ingram, a fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
Ingram said Canada can work with humanitarian partners like the U.N. that have operations in Afghanistan.
“Those organizations are better represented on the ground in rural areas and in urban areas … and will often be able to work directly with non-governmental organizations,” he said.
In fact, Canada is working with organizations like the World Food Programme and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to aid Afghans.