The United Nations has called on the world to raise $ 606m in Afghanistan, where poverty and hunger have been on the rise since the Taliban came to power and billions of foreign aid have disappeared due to a lack of trust in the new regime.
After years of war, suffering and insecurity, Afghan people are experiencing “perhaps their worst time,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement at the opening of a conference in Geneva asking for help in Afghanistan, adding that ” Afghanistan is in dire straits.
“Let us be clear: The conference is not just about what we will give to the people of Afghanistan. About what we have.”
He also said that food would run out at the end of the month.
The Taliban had previously ruled Afghanistan between 1996-2001, banning working-class women and young girls from school, and were defeated by the United States, which accused them of detaining al-Qaeda members in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
The Taliban returned to power last month with lightning as the last U.S. military-led force withdrew and Western-backed government troops melted down.
With the help of an emergency, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said donors had a “responsibility” to continue helping Afghan people after 20 years of action.
Neighbors China and Pakistan have already provided assistance.
Beijing announced last week that it would send $ 31m worth of food and donations to Afghanistan. Pakistan sent supplies such as cooking oil and medicine to Kabul officials, and called for Afghanistan’s release.
“The old mistakes should not be repeated. The people of Afghanistan should not be abandoned, “said Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose country could be legalized for refugees.
“Working with Afghanistan to meet their needs is important.”
Al Jazeera’s Editor-in-Chief James Bays, quoting from Geneva, says some countries are “unwilling” to donate money right now.
“They do not want the money to go into the hands of the Taliban,” he added.
Speaking to Al Jazeera in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said the agency wanted to ensure that the money went directly to the working people who provide aid to the Afghan people, saying the situation was “extremely difficult”.
US promises $ 64m
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the conference that Washington was providing about $ 64 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
“Let us dedicate ourselves today to urgently fulfilling this request for financial assistance, commit ourselves to representing humanitarian workers in their vital work, and mobilize support for Afghanistan so that we can save the lives of Afghan people in need,” he said. He said.
Even before the Taliban welcomed Kabul last month, half the population – or 18 million people – relied on aid. The figure seems to be growing due to the drought and lack of money and food, UN officials and aid agencies have warned.
About one-third of the $ 606m demand will be spent by the UN World Food Program, which found that 93% of the 1,600 Afghan people surveyed in August and September did not eat enough food, mainly because they could not afford to pay.
“It is now a race against time and snow in providing life-saving assistance to the most needy Afghan people,” said WFP Deputy Regional Director Anthea Webb.
“We’re just begging and borrowing to avoid too much food.”
The World Health Organization, another UN agency that is part of the petition, wants to strengthen hundreds of health-care facilities that are at risk of closure after aid workers provided assistance.
Charles Stratford of Al Jazeera, a spokesman from Kabul, said the situation at the country’s health facilities was “extremely shocking”.
“We visited a few days ago at a rural hospital outside Kabul which had several women expecting to give birth every day. They did not even have rubber gloves. There were no antibiotics, no antibiotics,” he said.
“There were people coming in with colds and sore throats and nurses and doctors couldn’t give them painkillers.”