Lending Assistance to Afghanistan

Afghanistan, June 20, 2002

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    "The prolonged fighting and recent drought has seriously disrupted the economic and social life of the Afghan people." Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps. Photo:

Over the past forty years, Afghanistan has experienced tempestuous political and social upheavals. Its history since the beginning of the 19th Century is a grim record of being subjugated by Russia and Britain, and monarchical control by a succession of Muslim emirs—the last of whom was an economic partner of the Soviet Union. That regime was followed by failed experiments to create a Marxist state, followed by ten years of Soviet domination after a military invasion (at the invitation of Afghan politicians) in December 1979.

Since then, the Afghans have hardly known a day of real peace. The Soviet forces were never able to stop the attacks of Afghan guerilla fighters, who launched a holy war to drive out the foreign invaders. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States poured so much money and sophisticated weaponry into the hands of the rebels, that Moscow decided to cut their loses and pull out in February 1989.

Victorious Afghan factions promptly fell to quarreling among themselves, leading to full-scale civil war. By September 1996 the Islamic Taliban movement had clearly established its supremacy, capturing the capital city of Kabul, and proclaiming itself the legitimate government of Afghanistan. This regime is the most rigidly controlled Islamic state in modern times.

The prolonged fighting and recent drought has seriously disrupted the economic and social life of the Afghan people. Moreover, devastating drought has afflicted much of the country, compounding the human misery. Consequently, more than two million Afghan refugees have fled across the borders into neighboring Pakistan and Iran. Providing essential supplies and long-term rebuilding efforts are Pax and Mercy Corps' central missions in this region.

The humanitarian needs are immense. People of conscience want to help. Pax and Mercy Corps, with over a decade of work in this region, are an experienced and conscientious instrument for delivering that assistance.