In the three months since the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan’s numerous economic and humanitarian challenges have reached a catastrophic tipping point. Many are predicting the country will soon experience the worst humanitarian crisis the world has seen in the past decade, with over half the population facing acute food insecurity and 97 percent of the country falling under the poverty line. The combination of a disorganized transition, the stoppage of aid, security threats, international sanctions and the freezing of Afghan assets would be an insurmountable challenge for any government — but the Taliban’s track record so far indicates they are alarmingly unprepared to handle a crisis of such magnitude.

While the international community is in agreement on the urgency of the crisis and the need for a coordinated response, many fear that the recent pledges for additional support are both too little and too late to avert the worst-case projections. A prolonged humanitarian crisis will not only drastically impact millions of Afghans, but will undermine regional stability and security given the high likelihood of increased displacement. There is broad consensus among aid agencies, international bodies and leading economists that greater and more urgent action needs to be taken to mitigate these compounding crises before the country enters the infamously harsh winter months. 

On December 3, USIP held a discussion with leading international experts and aid workers on the current economic and humanitarian challenges in Afghanistan, as well as how the U.S and international community can better assist Afghans at this time of significant need. Continue the conversation on Twitter with #AfghanistanUSIP.


Scott Worden, welcoming remarks
Director, Afghanistan & Central Asia, U.S Institute of Peace

Vicki Aken
Afghanistan Country Director, International Rescue Committee 

William Byrd
Senior Expert, Afghanistan, U.S. Institute of Peace 

Abdallah Al Dardari
Resident Representative in Afghanistan, United Nations Development Program 

Khalid Payenda
Former Acting Finance Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Kate Bateman, moderator 
Senior Expert, Afghanistan, U.S. Institute of Peace 

Related Publications

Elite Capture and Corruption of Security Sectors

Elite Capture and Corruption of Security Sectors

Friday, February 17, 2023

By: Elite Capture and Corruption of Security Sectors Working Group

The objective of US security sector assistance is to help build effective, accountable, responsive, transparent, and legitimate security sectors in partner nations to address common security risks. Such action ultimately benefits US national interests, as when the United States modernized West Germany’s military during the Cold War; when US security sector support to South Korea helped the United States deter regional threats; and when, in Ukraine, US security sector assistance contributed to success in fending off Russian aggression in 2022. Similarly, the United States helped Georgia turn its traffic police into one of the most trusted institutions in the country, supported Albania as it updated the governance of its security forces, and assisted Colombia in making progress toward ending its long-standing armed conflict. 

Type: Report

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Is Pakistan Poised to Take on the TTP?

Is Pakistan Poised to Take on the TTP?

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

By: Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.;  Tamanna Salikuddin;  Andrew Watkins

The Pakistani Taliban’s late January attack in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, claimed the lives of more than 100 worshipping at a police compound mosque. The bombing was claimed by a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban) initially, but later denied by the TTP’s central leadership. It was the group’s deadliest attack since its 2021 resurgence after the Afghan Taliban took power in Afghanistan. As Pakistan struggles with a major economic crisis, the fallout from the deadly floods of last fall and an ever-turbulent political scene, the TTP’s growing threat presents yet another challenge for the struggling nation.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionViolent Extremism

The Latest @ USIP: Religious Inclusion in Afghanistan

The Latest @ USIP: Religious Inclusion in Afghanistan

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

By: Charles Ramsey

The Taliban often use religious arguments to justify their claim to authority. But the Taliban are just one aspect of Afghanistan, and the caretaker government has failed to justify many of its more draconian policies — especially those against women and girls. Charles Ramsey, a resident scholar at Baylor University's Institute for the Studies of Religion and a senior fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute, discusses the role that other religious actors in Afghanistan can play in shaping the country’s future and how positively engaging with these religious leaders can contribute to building peace.

Type: Blog

Peace ProcessesReligion

Wrestling with a Humanitarian Dilemma in Afghanistan

Wrestling with a Humanitarian Dilemma in Afghanistan

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

Recent decrees by the Taliban barring Afghan women from attending university or working in NGOs are severely damaging the country both socially and economically, especially coming atop a ban on girls’ secondary education last year. The marginalization of half the population also highlights the “humanitarian dilemma” that aid donors and international agencies face: Afghanistan is highly dependent on humanitarian assistance, not only for saving lives and easing deprivation but also to stabilize its economy. The quandary for international donors is what to do when alleviating suffering benefits the Afghan economy and thereby the Taliban regime, even when that regime is harming its own people?

Type: Analysis and Commentary


View All Publications