Discrimination in Aid Distribution: Grievances of Ghazni Residents

The residents of Ghazni province have accused UN partner organizations of discriminatory practices in identifying impoverished families in the region. According to the locals, these organizations have a subjective approach to selecting districts for aid coverage. They claim that some areas are on the Taliban’s blacklist, resulting in the exclusion of these districts from aid programs. Moreover, Hasht-e Subh Daily’s findings indicate that areas with greater Taliban influence are receiving more aid while other areas are being deprived of assistance.

The Hasht-e Subh Daily has found that in the past two years of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, only a small number of residents in the notable districts of Jaghori, Malistan, Nawur, and Jaghatu in Ghazni province received one to three rounds of humanitarian aid. Those who received aid from these districts said that the quality of the food items provided was so poor that it was unusable. In contrast, residents in other districts of the province, where the Taliban have a stronger presence, have received more than ten rounds of both food and non-food aid in the same period. Last year alone, nearly 15,000 families in the districts of Khogyani, Andar, Qarabagh, Giro, Gilan, Nawur, Ab Band, and Zankhan received cash and food aid from relief agencies, according to statistics from the Taliban’s Department of Natural Disaster Management and Rural Rehabilitation and Development. This is because these districts have a greater Taliban influence, and residents receive more aid there.

Residents of several districts in Ghazni province have lodged complaints about the Taliban’s intervention in the distribution of humanitarian aid. One of the complainants is Bostan, a 46-year-old resident of Nawur district who is unable to work due to a disability. Speaking to the Hasht-e Subh Daily, Bostan stated that despite his family’s difficult economic situation, they have not received any aid in the province. He added that they rely on their children’s few sheep and cows for income, but have not received any aid, and are unaware of who is receiving it in the Nawur district.

Abulfazl, a resident of the Nawur district who was fortunate enough to receive assistance last year, said his name was included in the list of one thousand deserving families. He received humanitarian aid from the World Food Programme (WFP) in Nawur district, but according to him, the aid provided was not usable. Abulfazl expressed his dissatisfaction and claimed that the aid was old and worn out, which made people laugh at them. He added that the aid was not fair and that it was better not to help at all than to insult people. He believes that a large district with a large population like Nawur deserves better than just spoiled flour.

Last year, the head of Natural Disaster Management for the Taliban in Ghazni province announced that aid had been distributed to more than 8,500 impoverished families in the Waghaz district. However, statistics from the Ghazni governor’s office and information collected by the Hasht-e Subh Daily revealed that the total population of this district is less than 8,000 families.

Sources have confirmed to the Hasht-e Subh Daily that the Taliban engage in discrimination when distributing aid in districts that receive the most assistance from aid organizations. The sources indicate that aid is only available to individuals associated with the Taliban, while families whose members were active in the previous regime’s national security forces and uprisings are included in the Taliban’s blacklist, with the group attempting to prevent these families from receiving aid.

Reliable sources from a humanitarian aid facilitation organization in Ghazni province, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, have revealed that the Taliban forces aid organizations to pay extortion money. The source mentioned that if the organizations refuse to pay, they face prevention excuses by the group, or even prevented from working. Although the Taliban are not directly in contact with UN-affiliated organizations, they put pressure on sub-organizations responsible for delivering humanitarian aid and extorting money from them.

Local Taliban officials have been accused of intervening and extorting citizens in other provinces of the country. Last week, local sources in Bamyan province reported that Taliban individuals had sold relief materials from aid organizations in the market. There have also been numerous reports of embezzlement and mediation in the distribution of humanitarian aid by the Taliban in various provinces of the country. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) recently stated that there is no guarantee that US taxpayers’ taxes will not reach the Taliban.

As Afghanistan is among the 10 countries where its citizens face a food crisis, the Taliban are interfering with relief organizations in Ghazni province. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that nearly 258 million people in 58 countries worldwide were severely food insecure in 2022, and Afghanistan is one of those countries struggling with severe poverty and hunger.