Former SC Governor, World Food Program Director: Humanitarian aid critical to preventing extremist stronghold in Afghanistan

South Carolina News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Former South Carolina Governor and current United Nations World Food Programme Director, David Beasley, says that humanitarian aid is essential to preventing terrorist elements from further exploiting an already dire situation in Afghanistan.

Beasley says that currently, the program is providing food to around five million people, which usually grows to about 10 million in the fall.

With what he describes as the “lean season” of drought on its way, COVID-19 still taking a toll on the population, and the current conflict brought on by the Taliban takeover, Beasley fears conditions are ripe for violent extremists to capitalize on a society in flux.

He says that an economic collapse is a fast track to Afghanistan becoming “a breeding ground for extremism of ISIS and al-Qaeda and elements like that.”

“I’ve had more mothers tell me, ‘Mr. Beasley, my husband didn’t want to join ISIS, but we hadn’t fed our little girl in two weeks, what were we supposed to do?’ … We’ve got to give the people some hope.”

The use of food as a recruiting tool is common, according to Beasley. He says that if people can’t get necessities like food, they are forced to make compromising decisions, often at the hands of groups that seize supplies and demand loyalty in return.

When humanitarian aid like that provided by the World Food Programme is available, Beasley says that conditions overall improve. Starvation, migration by necessity, and conflict all drop, according to Beasley.

The biggest takeaway, in his eyes, is to be proactive:

“It’s a lot cheaper to come in and address root cause than it is to wait until after the fact.”

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