UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Monday for the international community to engage with the Taliban to avert a total collapse of Afghanistan‘s economy.
“It is impossible to provide humanitarian assistance inside Afghanistan without engaging with the de facto authorities,” Guterres told journalists on the sidelines of a donor conference, adding it was “very important to engage with the Taliban at the present moment”.
The UN chief on Monday urged countries to dig deep and provide desperately needed aid to Afghans, and to support women and others whose rights appear threatened by the Taliban.
Speaking to ministers gathered for a donor conference for the violence-torn country, Guterres insisted that “the people of Afghanistan need a lifeline”.
“After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, they face perhaps their most perilous hour,” he said at the UN’s European headquarters in Geneva.
“Let us be clear: This conference is not simply about what we will give to the people of Afghanistan. It is about what we owe.”
The half-day conference is seeking to raise the $606 million which humanitarian agencies say is urgently needed to provide life-saving aid to millions of Afghans over the four final months of the year.
Among other things, the money is needed for critical food and livelihood assistance for nearly 11 million people and essential health services for 3.4 million.
Guterres stressed that Afghans were experiencing “one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world” even before the Taliban takeover on August 15.
Some 40 percent of the country’s GDP was already drawn from foreign funding, and half of the population was already dependent on humanitarian aid, according to the UN.
The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund will allocate 20 million US dollars to support humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, Guterres said.
“Today, we are announcing a $20 million allocation from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund to support the humanitarian operation in Afghanistan,” he said.
Donors have pledged more than a billion dollars to help Afghanistan.
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