Many Afghans haven’t eaten in weeks as Taliban rule triggers humanitarian crisis

An international commercial flight took off from the Kabul airport Thursday for the first since the Taliban seized the country. On the evacuation flight were 200 foreigners, among them Americans. But they leave behind a country in a humanitarian crisis. Ali Rogin has the story.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Returning to Afghanistan, and the first international commercial flight from the Kabul Airport since the Taliban seized the country.

    The Biden administration said that Americans and legal residents of the U.S. were on the plane, but they leave behind a country in a humanitarian crisis.

    Ali Rogin has the story.

  • Ali Rogin:

    In Kabul today, 200 more people began a new chapter in their lives. They're heading to Doha, Qatar, and onward to a host country in the first large-scale departure since last month's withdrawal of foreign forces.

    But they leave behind an Afghanistan on the brink of collapse.

    Today, the U.N. refugee chief called for substantial humanitarian support for the Afghan people.

  • Man:

    The big development assistance has been suspended. If you neglect them, the humanitarian crisis will increase. And then you have big flows of people that make it out of the country.

  • Ali Rogin:

    This week, the U.N. appealed for almost $200 million in extra funding. The World Health Organization says 90 percent of clinics in Afghanistan could soon close. Medics have not received salaries in months, and hospitals are beginning to run out of medicine.

  • Ali Mustafa, TRT World:

    This country is facing a severe, severe humanitarian crisis. And the Taliban don't have the answers for them, for how to alleviate the suffering.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Ali Mustafa is a reporter with TRT World — that's Turkey's national broadcaster — and is in Kabul.

    He says Afghanistan needs hard cash to address the humanitarian crisis.

  • Ali Mustafa:

    There is desperation on the streets. There are families that are starving. People haven't eaten for weeks now because they haven't been paid for months now.

  • Ali Rogin:

    This week, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid announced a new interim government, an attempt to project normalcy. It's now the Taliban that must ensure stability and security nationwide.

    In Kuwait today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned that al-Qaida could reemerge in Afghanistan.

  • Lloyd Austin, U.S. Defense Secretary:

    I think the whole community is kind of watching to see what happens and whether or not al-Qaida has the ability to regenerate in Afghanistan. You know, we put the Taliban on notice that we expect for them to not allow that to happen.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Still, on the streets of Kabul, Afghan women continue to lead protests against the Taliban takeover.

    Yesterday, in Kabul, a Taliban member used a whip to beat a woman during a demonstration. Today, two journalists said they were tortured by the Taliban after covering the protests.

  • Taqi Daryab, Journalist (through translator):

    When they treat journalists like this, it's possible that journalism will stop in Afghanistan within a few months. It will be destroyed.

  • Ali Rogin:

    This week, a Taliban spokesperson told Australian TV that women's sports would be banned.

    Ahmadullah Wasiq, Deputy Head of Taliban Cultural Commission (through translator): Islam and the Islamic emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed.

  • Ali Rogin:

    Mustafa says the Taliban is balancing a need to appeal to Western governments with the reality that many in its ranks remain conservative.

  • Ali Mustafa:

    If they come across as too moderate, half of their people will revolt against them, because they were with the movement for 20 years based on certain action, certain principles.

  • Ali Rogin:

    For now, the Afghan people must live in that uneasy balance.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Ali Rogin.

Listen to this Segment