September 13, (Aljazeera):Donors have pledged more than a billion dollars to help Afghanistan, where poverty and hunger have spiralled since the Taliban took power, and foreign aid has dried up, raising the spectre of a mass exodus, Al-Jazera reported on Monday (September 13).
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking during a donor conference in Geneva, said it was impossible to say how much of the money had been promised in response to an emergency UN appeal for $606 million to meet the most pressing needs of the country.
The Taliban swept back to power last month in a lightning advance as the last US-led NATO troops pulled out and the forces of the Western-backed government melted away.
With billions of dollars of aid flows abruptly ending due to Western antipathy and distrust towards the Taliban, donors had a “moral obligation” to keep helping Afghans after a 20-year engagement, several speakers in Geneva said.
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.
According to Al Jazeera, UN humanitarian coordinator Martin Griffiths said the UN wanted to make sure the money went directly to those humanitarians on the ground who are delivering services to the Afghan people, calling the situation “very dire”.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the conference Washington was providing nearly $64 million 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. Even before the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul last month, about half the population – or 18 million people – were dependent on aid. That figure looks set to increase due to drought and shortages of cash and food, UN officials and aid groups have warned.