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UN hosts Afghanistan donor conference with crisis looming

Even before the Taliban took over, around half of the population required humanitarian aid

Even before the Taliban took over, around half of the population required humanitarian aid

The UN is hosting a donor conference in Geneva Monday in a bid to raise $606 million (€513 million) needed by December to keep aid programs in Afghanistan afloat.

Since the collapse of the Western-backed Afghan government and the Taliban takeover in August, Afghanistan stands on the brink of a growing humanitarian crisis. Many countries that were willing to provide aid now express growing hesitation due to concerns about how funds will be spent with the Taliban in power.

Where is the aid for Afghanistan needed most immediately?

The UN says humanitarian aid money would maintain medical services, the water supply and sanitation for millions of Afghans. Additionally, funding would support women and children and set up educational projects.

Funding for emergency shelters is also requested as 3.5 million Afghans are internally displaced. Money is also desperately needed for food aid.

A survey of 1,600 Afghans the World Food Program carried out this month and last showed 93% of those surveyed lacked sufficient food, mostly because they could not get access to cash to pay for items.

"Banks are closed. The central bank doesn't issue liquidity to the private banks," Stefan Recker, the Country Director of Caritas in Afghanistan, told DW. "So aid agencies which want to work which want to deliver aid simply cannot due to lack of liquidity."

Even before the Taliban takeover, circumstances in Afghanistan were dire, Mary-Ellen Mc Groarty, World Food Programme's Country Director for Afghanistan, told DW. Drought and the coronavirus pandemic contributed to 14 million people being in severe hunger.

"It's critical for the humanitarian effort that in the greatest time of need, that the international community stands alongside the women and children and men of Afghanistan, whose lives have been upended through no fault of their own," she said.

Who is taking part in the Afghanistan aid conference?

Forty ministers including German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, as well as dozens of government representatives are expected to attend both in person and virtually.

Maas said it was up to the international community to "take responsibility" for the people in Afghanistan. But aid agencies needed "proper access" and aid workers had to be able to carry out their work "without fear of initimidation, tyranny or restrictions by the Taliban."

German Development Minister Gerd Müller warned of a looming humanitarian crisis. He called for a reform to the way international aid is set up. With an emergency UN fund of €10 billion, "we could prevent global deaths from hunger in advance," he told the Funke Media Group on Monday.

Filippo Grandi, the UN refugee commissioner, warned Sunday that a "resurgence of fighting, human rights violations or the collapse of the economy and basic social services" could cause more Afghans to flee abroad. He landed ini Kabul Monday to assess the situation where he was greeted by Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani, the Taliban's acting minister of refugees and repatriation and an important leader of the Haqqani network who has a $5 million (€4.24 million) American bounty on his head.

Anthea Webb, the World Food Programme's deputy regional director, described the situation as "a race against time and the snow to deliver life-saving assistance to the Afghan people who need it most."

ar/rt (dpa, Reuters)

Updated : 2021-09-20 22:38 GMT+08:00