Two containers of food destined for Afghanistan were canceled by a Canada-based aid organization under a law banning any dealings with the Taliban.
World Vision said it was forced to cancel a large shipment of “therapeutic food” that could have fed about 1,800 children.
Asuntha Charles, national director of World Vision Afghanistan, said the country was facing a serious humanitarian crisis and food deliveries had to be canceled due to “unnecessary restrictions”.
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Canada passed legislation in 2013 that lists the Taliban as a terrorist organization and carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison if Canadians directly or indirectly provide them with property or finance.
Aid organizations working in Afghanistan complain that the law, as it stands, hinders their work because they can’t help anyone who might have anything to do with the current Afghan government, including those who pay rent or taxes.
Charles said it was “time for Canada to take action by decriminalizing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to save lives before it’s too late.”
Amy Avis, an attorney for the Canadian Red Cross, said Canada must find a way for aid to reach the people of Afghanistan.
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Ten humanitarian organizations earlier this year submitted a motion to a parliamentary special committee on Afghanistan, urging ministers to relax laws so they could work on the ground in Afghanistan without fear of violating Canada’s anti-terrorism laws violate.
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They criticized Canada for failing to amend its regulations following a December 2021 UN Security Council resolution that said “humanitarian assistance and other activities in support of basic human needs in Afghanistan” would not violate the Council’s sanctions regime.
Michael Messenger, President of World Vision Canada, told the committee Canada is “not in step” with other countries, including the US, which have made changes to facilitate humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
In its official report, the parliamentary committee recommended that the government “ensure that registered Canadian organizations have the clarity and assurances needed – such as exemptions or exemptions – to provide humanitarian assistance and meet basic needs in Afghanistan without fear of.” Prosecution for violating Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.”
Haley Hodgson, spokeswoman for international development secretary Harjit Sajjan, said he was working with the public safety and justice ministries to consider “necessary changes” to the law.
“We continue to support the immediate needs of the Afghan people,” she said. “In 2022, Canada provided $143 million in humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and neighboring countries.”
Sajjan has previously stressed that the government has no plans to remove the Taliban from its list of terrorist organizations.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/9051877/afghanistan-aid-shipment-cancelled-canada-anti-terrorist-law/ Aid shipment to Afghanistan canceled by Canadian authorities due to anti-terrorism laws – National