“Prices are spiking due to a whole set of reasons, but also the issue of sanctions has led to massive consequences,” he said. “We see more and more Afghans who are having to sell their belongings to make ends meet, where they have to buy materials for heating while at the same time have to face increasing costs for food and other essential items."
Sanctions are a challenge in getting aid and the necessary supplies to the country in a timely fashion, and it is key that all sanctions have humanitarian exemptions so organizations like the ICRC could continue their work, he said.
The Red Cross is already paying the salaries of 10,500 medical staff every month to ensure basic healthcare services stay afloat, he added.
“We are very conscious that it’s not our primary role to pay for salaries of medical staff. As a humanitarian organization, we are not best placed to do that. We have done so exceptionally to ensure that services continue to be provided.”
Schuepp, who was making his first visit to Afghanistan as director of operations since the Taliban takeover, said the agency was feeding most of the country’s prison population. He was unable to immediately say how many prisoners there were in Afghanistan.
“We have stepped up our support to prisons and prisoners, ensuring that food is being provided in the prisons throughout the country,” he said. “Today, about 80% of the prison population benefits from such food support."
He described the Red Cross' role as a “stop-gap measure” that had become necessary following the collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government once Washington began its final withdrawal of troops in August 2021.
The Red Cross has tried “to make sure that basic services continue” in prisons under Taliban rule, he said.
No country in the world has recognized the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban call their administration, leaving them internationally isolated. The religious group previously ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s and was overthrown by a U.S. invasion in 2001.