Donors have pledged more than a billion dollars to help Afghanistan, a country ravaged by war caused by poverty, hunger and lack of access to education, spiralled by the Taliban’s take over of power in the country.
After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, Afghans are facing “perhaps their most perilous hour” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking during a donor conference in Geneva on Monday, September 13, said.
His statement comes after the UN made an emergency appeal for $606m to meet the most pressing needs of the country.
Guterres said in his opening remarks to the conference, adding that “the people of Afghanistan need a lifeline.
“The financial system at the moment is extremely limited, which means that a number of basic economic functions cannot be delivered,” Guterres said.
He said food could run out by the end of this month, and the World Food Programme said 14 million people were on the brink of starvation.
The Taliban previously ruled Afghanistan between 1996-2001, where they barred women from work and teenage girls from school, before they were toppled by an invasion led by the United States.
The Taliban swept back to power last month after Joe Biden pulled back US-led NATO troops.
Guterres said it was “impossible” to provide humanitarian assistance inside Afghanistan without engaging with the Taliban.
It was “very important to engage with the Taliban at the present moment”, Guterres told journalists on the sidelines of the conference.
Beijing last week promised $31m worth of food and health supplies, and on Friday, said it would send a first batch of three million coronavirus vaccines.
Pakistan has sent supplies such as cooking oil and medicine to authorities in Kabul, and called for the US to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets.
“Past mistakes must not be repeated. The Afghan people must not be abandoned,” said Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
“Sustained engagement with Afghanistan in meeting its humanitarian needs is essential.”
China and Russia say they are in support of encouraging the West to help out Afghans.
“The US and its allies have a greater obligation to extend economic, humanitarian and livelihood assistance,” said Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.
Meanwhile the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the UN conference that Washington was providing nearly $64m in new humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan.
“Let us commit today to meeting this urgent appeal for financial support, commit to standing by humanitarian workers as they do their all-important work, and to stepping up humanitarian action in Afghanistan so we can save the lives of Afghans in need,” she said.