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KABUL: The situation in Afghanistan could become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the UN said on Saturday, a day after the country’s Taliban government called on the international community to urgently release a $ 1.2 billion package promised by the Group of 20 major economies.
Afghanistan plunged into economic crisis when the Western-backed government collapsed and fled the country in mid-August as the Taliban took control, triggering the suspension of billions of dollars in aid to its aid-dependent economy.
Afghanistan’s designated permanent representative to the UN and former Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen on Friday called on the international community in a series of tweets to disburse emergency aid as the winter months more rigorous are fast approaching.
As the global community faces the difficult decision of how aid should reach the Afghan people without recognizing a Taliban government, Shaheen said they were “ready to cooperate fully” through designated organizations.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told Arab News on Saturday that it was trying to deliver aid to around half of the country’s population.
“Humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are worsening and the country is on the verge of becoming the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” said Linda Tom, OCHA spokesperson in Kabul.
“At the start of the year, already 18 million people were in need of assistance due to decades of conflict, drought and the economic consequences of COVID-19,” she said. “As winter approaches, the humanitarian community, both United Nations and NGOs, is working to reach 9 million people with winter assistance. “
Tom added that funds for the humanitarian community must continue as it is essential to deliver aid to people before winter, but so far the appeal by the UN Secretary General last month for more than $ 600 million in a “flash appeal” for Afghans had only been partially answered.
“The humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan is $ 606 million, but we have only received less than half of it,” she said.
As Shaheen, in his Friday tweets, renewed his government’s demand to unfreeze the country’s foreign exchange reserves, some economic experts in Kabul said it was the key to averting the ongoing crisis.
“The world must first unfreeze Afghanistan’s foreign assets; it will help the Afghan people cope with the current crisis, ”economist Hamidullah Mofid told Arab News.
The United States froze $ 10 billion in the country’s central bank assets after the Taliban captured Kabul on August 15.
“The economic situation in Afghanistan is fragile, a new wave of crisis threatens the populations and puts them in danger. According to UN statistics, around 18 million Afghan citizens are in extreme danger, ”he said. “The international community must continue its humanitarian aid, in particular the new commitments it has made.