Accessibility links

Breaking News

Azadi Briefing

An Afghan woman sits next to a child suffering from malnutrition and other diseases while receiving treatment at Mirwais hospital in Kandahar.

Welcome to The Azadi Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan. To subscribe, click here.

I'm Abubakar Siddique, a senior correspondent at RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. Here's what I've been tracking and what I'm keeping an eye on in the days ahead.

The Key Issue

International humanitarian operations in Afghanistan were boosted after the European Union and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced they would provide nearly $550 million in funding.

The ADB has approved $400 million “in grants to protect the welfare and livelihoods of vulnerable Afghan people, particularly women and girls, and ease the adverse impact of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.”

The EU has agreed to release more than $149 million of humanitarian assistance “in the fields of education, health, agriculture, and women's economic empowerment in Afghanistan.”

The announcement follows desperate calls for funding after the UN warned that millions among the nearly 30 million Afghans dependent on humanitarian aid will go hungry if they don’t receive urgent humanitarian funding.

“In Afghanistan, WFP has been forced to end life-saving aid for 10 million people,” Cindy McCain, the executive director of the UN World Food Program (WFP), warned on X, formerly known as Twitter, on September 19. “This is what a funding crisis means: no $$, no food.”

In August, the International Rescue Committee, a U.S. nongovernmental organization, said Afghanistan had only received 23 percent of this year's $4.6 billion proposed humanitarian funding.

Why It's Important: These announcements are welcome news for aid workers attempting to save lives in one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world.

The UN estimates that more than two-thirds of Afghanistan's estimated 40 million people need humanitarian assistance. The WFP estimates that more than 3 million Afghans are at risk of famine.

The Taliban's return to power in August 2021 quickly worsened the vast humanitarian crisis millions faced. The impoverished country lost Western aid, which was financing more than 70 percent of the government budget. The economy collapsed as sanctions kicked in against the Taliban leaders.

Yet the UN and international NGOs prevented thousands of deaths and starvation by quickly responding to the humanitarian crisis after utilizing generous funds from Western donors.

What's Next: New funding will help aid agencies prevent a humanitarian catastrophe during the winter, which begins with the first snowfall in November.

However, Western funding for humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan is not guaranteed in the long run. Domestic pressure is likely to prevent Western governments from giving money to a country where the Taliban government has even banned women from working for international aid groups after banning their education and work.

Longer term, Afghanistan's economy is unlikely to quickly turn around under the Taliban's unrecognized government.

What To Keep An Eye On

The caretaker Taliban government is working on a new constitution to establish a permanent government and consultative bodies.

The Taliban’s chief justice, Abdul Hakim Haqqani, is leading the process of writing a constitution, which is under wraps.

“We are still working on the supreme law as we debate [the role of the consultative] councils,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, chief Taliban spokesman. “Once finalized, it will revive all the aspects of governance.”

After seizing power two years ago, the Taliban has imposed a caretaker government comprised of top Taliban leaders, which has been ruling in a legal vacuum by suspending the country’s 2004 constitution.

Why It's Important: Few Afghans believe the Taliban constitution will be framed and adopted in any kind of a democratic, consultative process.

They are concerned that it will be yet another step toward permanently imposing a government by the group that has taken away most fundamental rights and freedoms from Afghans.

“This law is unlikely to be a recipe for a self-governing democratic polity that will pave the way for the international recognition of the Taliban government,” Attiqur Rahman Habib, an Afghan legal expert, told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi.

That's all from me for now. Don't forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have.

Until next time,

Abubakar Siddique

If you enjoyed this briefing and don't want to miss the next edition, subscribe here. It will be sent to your inbox every Friday.

Afghan women wait to receive food rations distributed by a humanitarian aid group in Kabul.

Welcome to The Azadi Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan. To subscribe for free, click here.

I'm Malali Bashir, senior editor for women's programs at RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. Here's what I've been tracking and what I'm keeping an eye on in the days ahead.

The Key Issue

Millions of impoverished Afghans are bearing the brunt of receding international aid to Afghanistan, the world's largest humanitarian crisis.

International organizations operating in the country have been forced to cut their assistance to Afghans in the fields of health care and food aid in recent months, largely due to funding shortages.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) said last week that it would cut emergency assistance to 2 million vulnerable Afghans by the end of the month because of a "massive funding shortage."

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross stopped funding 25 hospitals across Afghanistan on August 31, citing a lack of resources.

The drop in foreign assistance has directly impacted the lives of Afghans, many of whom are reeling from the devastating economic impact of the Taliban's seizure of power in 2021.

"We used to survive on food assistance [from the WFP]," Zarmina, a resident of the northern province of Parwan, told RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. "But now this assistance has been cut off and my situation is dire."

Zarmina, 27, is the sole breadwinner for her family of six. She said her family received around 4,000 afghanis ($50) worth of food handouts every six weeks from the WFP.

"There's no work for me," she said. "It's very difficult. What are we going to do?"

Why It's Important: Declining international assistance will worsen the devastating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Around 6 million people -- out of a population of around 40 million -- are already on the brink of starvation, according to the UN.

Wahidullah Amani, the spokesperson for the WFP in Afghanistan, told Radio Azadi that the lack of aid will specifically affect women and children, the most vulnerable segments of society.

"My children suffer from malnourishment because they don't have enough food to eat," Hamidullah, a resident of the southeastern province of Khost, told Radio Azadi.

"All Afghans have the same problem. We ask all humanitarian organizations to help Afghans," added Hamidullah, who is the head of an extended family of 20.

What's Next: The cash-strapped Taliban government, which is unrecognized and under international sanctions, appears unable or unwilling to alleviate the economic and humanitarian crisis in the country.

Some Afghans have called on the militant group to do more to create employment opportunities and deliver food to the most needy. "The government should solve these problems and provide a chance for people to find work," said Samiullah, a resident of the eastern province of Nangarhar.

The Week's Best Stories

Afghanistan has seen a surge in the number of female suicides since the Taliban takeover, making the country one of the few in the world where more women take their own lives than men. The spike comes amid the Taliban's severe restrictions on women's lives, including their right to education and employment.

What To Keep An Eye On

China has become the first country to formally name a new ambassador to Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover.

The Chinese envoy presented his credentials to the Taliban's prime minister at a ceremony in Kabul on September 13.

The Taliban government has not been recognized by any country in the world. It was unclear if Beijing's appointment was a step towards formal recognition.

"This is the normal rotation of China's ambassador to Afghanistan, and is intended to continue advancing dialogue and cooperation between China and Afghanistan," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Why It's Important: It is unclear if the appointment signals China's growing interest in Afghanistan.

After the Taliban takeover, there was a surge in Chinese traders visiting Afghanistan to explore business opportunities and ink deals. The Taliban has boasted of Beijing's interest in expanding trade and investing billions of dollars in Afghanistan's mining sector.

But experts have said that China's relationship with the Taliban has been limited and largely transactional.

Experts said Beijing's primary concern in Afghanistan is the threat posed by members of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), an Uyghur extremist group. The Taliban has been accused of sheltering the militants.

That's all from me for now. Don't forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have. You can always reach us at

Until next time,

Malali Bashir

If you enjoyed this briefing and don't want to miss the next edition, subscribe for free here. It will be sent to your inbox every Friday.

Load more

Radio Azadi is RFE/RL's Dari and Pashto-language public service news outlet for Afghanistan. Every Friday, in our newsletter, Azadi Briefing, one of our journalists will share their analysis of the week’s most important issues and explain why they matter.

To subscribe, click here.