Harsh winter worsens humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

It's been five months since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and a hard, cruel winter has descended. Millions are in dire need across the country. John Ray of Independent Television News reports from Kabul.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It has been five months since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. And a hard, cruel winter has descended. Millions are in dire need, and not just in the capital, Kabul.

    John Ray of Independent Television News is there.

  • John Ray:

    There is timeless side to Afghanistan, resistant to change, resilient in crisis.

    But this is a test of their deepest reserves. Shafiqa has her winter larder stored underground, the difference between eating and starvation.

    "This is all we have," she says.

    Much of this vast land is cut off. The big freeze follows the worst drought in 30 years.

    During the long war, this village and so many more like it really were in the front line of the conflict with the Taliban. But now they are at the back of the queue when it comes to help from the international community. There is here absolutely no peace dividend.

    The Taliban wants international recognition. It wants aid. But it wants it all on its own terms.

    Couldn't you solve this crisis almost straight away by guaranteeing women can go back to education? That would be the clearest indication that the Taliban is committed to human rights?

  • Bilal Karimi, Taliban Spokesperson (through translator):

    In respect of women's rights, we never prevented anyone going into education or the work force. But it must be under the framework of Islamic principles.

  • John Ray:

    A middle class who once fared well under the old regime now struggle. In Kabul, they queue for food.

  • Marzia Mohammadi, World Food Program:

    We have teachers, doctors, engineers who were in the private government, and now they lose their jobs, and they are vulnerable to have the food assistance.

  • John Ray:

    They have nothing got but what they can get here?

  • Marzia Mohammadi:

    Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

  • John Ray:

    Waiting for their sack of flour and a single bag of beans is a woman who tells us her daughter was studying to be a doctor, and then the Taliban closed her school.

    The boys still get to sit exams, even if it is outside in the snow because their school building is a wreck with no heat or light. They can dream.

  • Khan Mohammad, Student:

    I got ambition in the future, good doctor for us, our people.

  • John Ray:

    This little girl can only watch and wonder what might have been. However deep the crisis, the Taliban will recast this country in its own image.

    John Ray, ITV News, Kabul.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, as you heard, that report from John Ray of Independent Television News.

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