'Bury differences’ with Taliban to tackle Afghan crisis, urges UK former Army chief

Lord Dannatt calls for urgent action as people are hungry and dying in Afghanistan

A man distributes bread to Afghan women outside a bakery in Kabul on Thursday. AP
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The UK should “bury its differences” with the Taliban to help tackle the deepening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, a former British Army chief has said.

People are dying in the country and action is needed urgently, Richard Dannatt told the UK House of Lords.

The Taliban takeover, which followed the withdrawal of US troops, led to an end of international aid to the Kabul government, while billions of pounds in Afghan assets held abroad were frozen.

UN officials have warned of a humanitarian crisis, with millions of Afghans plunging deeper into poverty and increasing numbers on the verge of starvation.

Afghanistan has been hit by one of its worst famines in decades, and the economic collapse has meant many people are unable to afford food.

Mr Dannatt said that the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, started by former president Donald Trump and executed by President Joe Biden, has "led directly to the poverty and hunger that 23 million people in Afghanistan are suffering".

“We [Britain] were actually there to give those people the chance of a better life, and at a stroke that better life was taken away.

“We don’t like the Taliban regime, but is that a good enough reason to stand on those issues and not give the humanitarian support that the Afghan people need?

We should not leave it to the charitable sector. Governments should make a decision that the time has come to bury our differences with the Taliban, support the people who we tried to help for the last 20 years and sort out the other issues in slow time.

“Wringing our hands and saying it’s awful is not good enough. The time for action is now. Winter is coming.

"People are hungry, people are dying, babies can’t be fed. We have got to do more. We have got to do it soon.”

Updated: December 02, 2021, 10:05 PM