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KABUL, Afghanistan – Taliban fighters speed down the street in American-made Humvees.
Flags of the Islamic Emirate flying, weapons in hand, some yell out “victory.”
They’re celebrating one year since their takeover of Afghanistan by parading through Kabul.
This scene would’ve been hard to imagine 13 months ago. Now it’s a reminder of the reality Afghanistan must face.
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The country of nearly 40 million people is under Taliban rule and, with increasing international isolation, the Afghan people are paying the highest price.
The United Nations estimates 97% of the population is approaching life below the poverty line.
And with a strict interpretation of Islamic law guiding the society, countries are reluctant to do business with the Taliban.
Right now in Afghanistan, young girls are banned from attending secondary school in most provinces, all women must be home at night unless they have a male escort and press freedom has plummeted.
The Taliban tells Fox News that security has gotten better under their rule. Some civilians we spoke with agreed, but it begs the question: “At what price?”
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You see the desperation in the streets of Kabul. Young groups of children beg for change. Sick civilians lie outside the gates of a hospital. People are skipping meals. Many of these problems existed before the Taliban came into power, but they’ve gotten worse under the group’s rule, according to international observers.
Inside a malnutrition ward, we meet a mother named Fatima. Her 11-month-old son is slowly slipping away due to malnutrition. If he dies, it will be the fourth child she’s lost. You see the pain in her eyes, you hear the loss of hope in her voice. Fatima, like so many Afghans, is desperate for international aid.
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The situation is far worse in the more rural areas of Afghanistan. Another mother we met traveled to Kabul from the province of Kunduz and is just 16 years old. The girl tells us her first child died when she was only 13.
Any semblance of stability in Afghanistan is due to billions of dollars in international aid still making its way into the country. Countries and NGOs must find a way to continue humanitarian efforts without supporting the governing style of the Taliban as they roll back freedoms for the civilian population.
Thank you to my producer Simon Owen, cameraman Michael Pohl and our entire local team for their work on this assignment. We will continue our efforts to report on Afghanistan as the country enters a new, but difficult chapter. It’s our duty as journalists to keep providing a voice to the voiceless, while holding those in power accountable.