UK to co-host Afghanistan crisis summit as Taliban mark six months in power

UN aims to raise $4.4 billion in its biggest appeal for a single country

Afghans wait to apply for visas outside the Iranian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, where the UN says the humanitarian crisis is growing. AP Photo
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The UK is preparing to co-host an international summit to address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan six months since the Taliban takeover.

At the event next month, the UN will aim to raise $4.4 billion for the nation in its biggest appeal yet for a single country.

News of the summit came as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that Afghanistan is "hanging by a thread", with half the population facing starvation.

The UK has already committed £286 million ($387 million) to support Afghans in the past year and foreign office officials, including the UK’s humanitarian envoy, visited Kabul last week.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the conference will be critical in helping to address the growing crisis.

“The conference is a critical moment for the international community to step up support in an effort to stop the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan," she said.

"The scale of need is unparalleled, and consequences of inaction will be devastating.

“The UK is determined to lead the global effort. We will bring international allies together to raise vital aid to deliver food, shelter and health services, protect women and girls and support stability in the region.”

Donor countries, UN agencies and Afghan civil society are expected to take part in the online event next month.

The UN is seeking to raise $4.4 billion to help more than 24.4 million Afghans who are in need of urgent humanitarian help to survive.

The summit will also aim to garner international support to help Afghans gain access to basic services, particularly health and education. Funding is channelled through trusted UN agencies and charities on the ground.

“We are very grateful to the UK for co-hosting this important event to mobilise international support for the humanitarian needs of Afghanistan," said Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator.

"We welcome donors from around the globe to join together to save the lives and futures of Afghans.

"Every day of delay means more misery for the Afghan people. They need a lifeline.”

The other co-hosts of the summit will be announced in due course.

UK officials, including Nick Dyer, the UK’s Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs, visited Kabul last week for talks with the Taliban on how to respond to the country’s deepening humanitarian crisis.

Last month, the UK pledged £97 million of emergency aid to provide more than 2.7 million people with food, health services, and water. It brought the total pledged by the UK in the financial year to £286 million.

UK aid allocated since October will support more than 60 hospitals, provide health services for more than 300,000 people; ensure 4.47 million people get emergency food assistance through the World Food Programme; and provide 6.1 million people with emergency health, water, protection, shelter, food, and education support through the UN Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund.

Earlier this month the UN revealed it is unable to use about $135 million it has in a bank in Afghanistan because the Taliban-run central bank cannot convert the funds to local currency.

The Taliban, who seized power in August, banned the use of foreign currency in a country where US dollars were common.

The group have long been under international sanctions, which the UN and aid groups say are now hindering humanitarian operations.

The UN says more than half the country's 39 million people are suffering from extreme hunger and the economy, education, and social services systems face collapse.

Updated: February 15, 2022, 1:15 PM
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