UK pledges extra £286m of emergency aid for Afghan people

Aid package will provide 'life-saving food and emergency health support' for Afghans

Afghan women and girls gather outside a Kabul bakery for food on February 19. AFP

The UK is pledging an extra £286 million ($374m) of emergency aid to provide life-sustaining food, shelter and medical supplies for people in Afghanistan.

The announcement comes as Britain is set to co-host a UN international pledging summit to help raise more than £3 billion for humanitarian relief after the Taliban takeover.

The new package of UK aid, which matches the value of last year’s commitment, will provide “life-saving food and emergency health support” to Afghan people, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.

The funds will also support basic services such as improving access to health care and helping farmers overcome the impact of drought, it said.

“The UK is rallying countries in support of the Afghan people and helping lead the way in providing life-sustaining food, shelter and medical supplies," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.

“Together with allies and partners, we can do more and will do more to help Afghanistan.”

The Foreign Office said the new UK funds would be channelled through UN partners and trusted non-government organisations, with none going directly to the Taliban.

“The people of Afghanistan deserve the right not only to survive, but to thrive and live in freedom," Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said.

"Our humanitarian aid supports the most vulnerable, including girls and women, as well as marginalised religious minorities.

“I’m proud the UK is co-hosting this conference with the United Nations, Qatar and Germany to strengthen the international response, which has already saved lives this winter.”

The office said the UN estimates about 10 million children across Afghanistan urgently need humanitarian assistance to survive.

It said Thursday’s conference would collect funds for this and to protect women and girls, and support stability in the region.

The department said Ms Truss would “commit to putting women and girls at the heart of the UK’s response”.

It said the Taliban must “engage constructively to protect their rights and urgently reverse the decision to prevent girls attending secondary school”.

The UN is seeking to raise $4.4bn to help Afghans in need of urgent aid — its biggest appeal for a single country.

Updated: March 29, 2022, 11:01 PM