The US is providing $308 million in humanitarian aid for the people of Afghanistan, the National Security Council announced Tuesday, as well as additional Covid-19 vaccine doses.
The humanitarian assistance and vaccines come months after the US completed its military withdrawal from the country. The Biden administration has also faced pressure to take action as the country faces a dire humanitarian crisis.
“The new humanitarian assistance by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will directly flow through independent humanitarian organizations and help provide lifesaving protection and shelter, essential health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services in response to the growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by COVID-19 and healthcare shortages, drought, malnutrition, and the winter season,” NSC spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.
The US will also provide one million additional Covid-19 vaccine doses through COVAX, the global vaccine sharing program.
The US has provided $782 million in humanitarian assistance to the country, including the new aid, since October 2021, Horne said.
Lawmakers have urged the Biden administration to take action to avert an economic disaster in Afghanistan, proposing measures that could provide relief.
In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a group of House lawmakers advised the administration to release frozen Afghan funds “to an appropriate United Nations agency to pay teacher salaries and provide meals to children in schools, so long as girls can continue to attend. They also advised officials to clarify sanctions exemptions for humanitarian aid, to “assist multilateral organizations attempting to pay Afghan civil servants,” to allow financial institutions to inject capital into the Afghan economy and to “prepare to rally donors to contribute their fair share” to the upcoming UN appeal for Afghanistan.
In December, the Biden administration announced it was lifting some restrictions on the types of aid that humanitarian organizations can provide to Afghanistan that would enable support for educational programs, including paying teachers’ salaries.
International humanitarian organizations are also sounding the alarm that Afghanistan is on the brink of disaster as its economic and medical systems collapse and millions face starvation after the Taliban takeover and US withdrawal.
The International Rescue Committee ranked Afghanistan No. 1 on its annual emergency watchlist of countries whose humanitarian crises are expected to deteriorate in 2022.
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.