Justin Trudeau has no timetable for releasing aid for Afghans

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Justin Trudeau has no timetable for releasing aid for Afghans

A nine-year-old child works at a brick factory in the Kabul region on August 20, 2022. The number of child laborers has tripled in Afghanistan since the takeover of power of the Taliban, a little over a year ago.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not yet specified a timetable for when Canadian aid groups will be able to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, although peer countries have found ways to circumvent their anti-terrorism laws. months ago.

Aid groups told MPs this spring that Canadian officials had warned them they might break funding rules terrorism by providing support.

They told a parliamentary committee that officials explained that buying supplies or paying a driver to deliver food to Afghanistan, for example, would incur taxes for the Taliban, who took control of the country in August 2021 and which Canada recognizes as a terrorist organization.

The Liberals say they want to find a workaround. Still, Mr. Trudeau offered no timeline on Wednesday when asked when the federal government would fix the situation.

We know how important it is to support the Afghan people,” Mr. Trudeau replied at a press conference in Pickering, Ont. We will continue to look for ways we can help.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons.

Afghanistan faces food shortages and medical supplies, compounded by international sanctions, two major earthquakes and drought.

UNICEF has reported an increase in child labor and says more and more families are offering their young daughters in marriage in exchange for a dowry so they can buy basic necessities .

As the House of Commons Special Committee on Afghanistan reported on the aid issue in June, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and the European Union had all found solutions to circumvent their own laws, allowing organizations to help Afghans without incurring penalties.

The government tabled a response to the committee's report last week, saying it will consider measures, including legislative options, but without offering a timetable.

The measures and current anti-terrorism legislation have the unintended effect of hampering legitimate humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, the October 6 response reads.

“Unlike the laws of some other like-minded states, Canada does not have an exemption mechanism for this [terrorist financing] offence, including the provision of assistance vital humanitarianism.

—Federal Government Response to the Report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Afghanistan

Ottawa's response also notes that the Government of Canada has no intention of de facto recognizing the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan, a point Trudeau reiterated on Wednesday. .

Still, Mr. Trudeau confirmed that Ottawa was in regular talks with Taliban leaders shortly after their takeover of Afghanistan, as the #x27;reported CBC News last week.

Afghan women at a religious school, Kabul, August 11, 2022

Constitutional lawyers argued that&# x27;Ottawa misinterprets its own laws, saying the Criminal Code provisions against terrorist financing cannot apply to the payment of local taxes.

Otherwise, they note, Afghan refugees would be barred from entering Canada, as they likely paid taxes to the Taliban.

Conservative Critic in international development, Garnett Genuis, said for his part that Mr. Trudeau's answer rings hollow when millions of people are at risk of starvation.

This is a major crisis situation, from a humanitarian point of view, and Canadian organizations are obviously particularly disadvantaged, underlined Mr. Genuis, who was part of the special parliamentary committee.

“Unfortunately, this is another one of those cases where the government pretends to know something , but, by all indications, does nothing, offers no time frame, and fails to recognize the need and urgency.

— Garnett Genuis, Conservative Critic for International Development

The Liberal government has stressed that it is able to deliver #x27;aid to Afghanistan through the United Nations, even though Canadian organizations cannot do independent work on the ground.

We continue to work with partners around the world to help get needed humanitarian aid to Afghanistan despite the Taliban, and we will continue to do so,” Trudeau concluded on Wednesday.

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