A total of 41 donor countries have pledged more than $2.44 billion to the United Nations’ $4.4 billion humanitarian aid appeal in Afghanistan, the world body said on Thursday, as international concerns mounted over the Taliban, who are killing Girls refused secondary education.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the high-level conference and called on donors to provide unconditional funding. He said 9 million Afghans were suffering from famine and that families were selling children and organs to survive.
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The humanitarian situation has “deteriorated at an alarming rate” since the Taliban takeover in August, and the economy has practically collapsed, he said.
“About 95 percent of people don’t have enough to eat. Nine million people are at risk of starvation. UNICEF estimates that without immediate action, one million severely malnourished children are on the verge of death,” he said.
Guterres called for the non-discriminatory reopening of schools for all students in Afghanistan.
Britain, the European Union and the United States have pledged funds, but along with Turkey and others, they have expressed concern about the increasing restrictions being imposed by tough Islamist rulers.
“This humanitarian assistance, like all United States assistance, will go directly to NGOs and the United Nations. The Taliban will not control our humanitarian funding,” said US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, pledged $204 million.
Ahead of the action, Britain pledged £286 million ($374 million) to Afghanistan, where six out of ten Afghans are in need of assistance, much of it food.
UK Minister of State Lord Ahmad said: “While our focus today has rightly been on critical humanitarian issues, many interventions today have also increased the increasing restrictions that the Afghan people, particularly women and girls, the media and civilian population are tragically facing society.”
Speaking in Doha, Qatar, after talks with the Taliban in Kabul this week, UN Secretary General Martin Griffiths said: “I had the strong impression that the door remains open for dialogue with the de facto authorities, they want a constructive path find to work with us.
“They don’t necessarily know how to work with the international community, including on the complex issue of girls’ education. I hope we can solve this problem in the future.”
At the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul, he had seen tiny, malnourished children and newborns sharing a ventilator. The scale of the human suffering left him speechless, Griffiths said.
The United Nations says funds under the appeal – triple the amount requested in 2021 – will go directly to aid organizations and none will be channeled through the de facto authorities.