UK pledges additional $99m in aid to Afghanistan at G7 meeting

Britain's foreign secretary says this will help provide 'vital humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan this winter'

A vendor sells bread at a street market in the Pul-e Khishti area of Kabul. Aid agencies say millions of Afghans are facing severe hunger as winter descends. AFP
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The UK is to give Afghanistan a further £75 million ($99 million) in aid to help address its worsening humanitarian situation, Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced.

She said the commitment would help save lives and “support stability in the region”.

This follows discussions among G7 foreign ministers in Liverpool on Saturday about what co-ordinated action can be taken in Afghanistan, along with how to engage with the Taliban rulers.

The militant group seized Kabul in a lightning advance in August, leading to the chaotic withdrawal of western forces and personnel and the evacuation of civilians.

“The UK is providing vital humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan this winter,” said Ms Truss.

“The funds announced today will save lives, protect women and girls and support stability in the region.

“We are determined to do all we can for the people of Afghanistan.”

The additional financial support will bring the UK’s commitment to Afghanistan to £286 million this year.

It will be used to provide support for victims of gender-based violence and fund child protection services.

The UN and aid agencies will prioritise those most at risk, including households headed by women and disabled people, the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.

Officials said no funding would go directly through the Taliban, instead being funnelled through the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, World Food Programme and other organisations.

The WFP will receive £34 million of the funding announced on Sunday.

David Beasley, the organisation’s executive director, said the donation would “help us save many lives”.

“What we are seeing on the ground is heartbreaking – 23 million people are facing severe hunger in a country crippled by drought, conflict and an economic crisis,” he said.

“Women and children are bearing the brunt of this suffering and, as the harsh winter descends, more and more are slipping into malnutrition and starvation each day.”

The UN’s humanitarian chief has warned that Afghanistan’s economic collapse was “happening before our eyes” and urged the international community to take action to stop “the freefall” before it leads to more deaths.

“It’s getting more and more dire by the week,” said Martin Griffiths.

The funding announcement comes after UK ministers faced awkward questions about the Afghan withdrawal effort, following a whistleblower’s evidence to MPs.

Raphael Marshall, who worked for the Foreign Office during the evacuation, claimed just 5 per cent of Afghan nationals who applied to flee under one UK scheme received help, as a result of the “dysfunctional” and “chaotic” handling of the situation.

Mr Marshall told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee that some of those hoping to escape were murdered after being left behind in Kabul.

He also claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson requested that “considerable capacity” was made available to evacuate cats and dogs from a shelter run by former Royal Marine Paul “Pen” Farthing, putting the lives of troops at risk to help aid the animals' departure on a privately funded plane.

The prime minister has called the claims “complete nonsense”.

Updated: December 12, 2021, 4:31 AM