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At a donor conference on Thursday, the United Nations called on the international community to support Afghanistan and put an end to the “death spiral” that is threatening the country’s economy. The UN Secretary-General also expressed concern about the survival of some Afghans who “sell their children and body parts to feed their families.”
The UN at the bedside of Afghanistan. The international organization on Thursday, March 31, called on the world to provide financial support to Kabul to break a “death spiral” threatening its economy.
The United Nations attempted to mobilize $4.4 billion for the country, which has been ruled by the Taliban since August 2021, during a pledging conference co-organized by the United Nations, Britain, Germany and Qatar and is in a complete economic meltdown.
The organization hopes to triple the amount requested in 2021 in the largest fundraiser ever launched for a single country, while so far receiving just 13% of the required amount.
In the opening speech, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “immediate action” without “we face a hunger and malnutrition crisis in Afghanistan”.
“One million severely malnourished children are on the brink of death,” he warned. Some “already sell their children and parts of their bodies to feed their families,” he said.
“Rich and powerful countries cannot ignore the consequences of their decisions”
The Taliban took power in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021 after US-led foreign forces had hastily withdrawn. Since then, the humanitarian crisis in the country has rapidly worsened.
For months, the UN has been working to ease Western sanctions against Kabul, which have been imposed since the insurgents took power. Almost $9.5 billion from the Afghan central bank has been frozen by Washington since August.
“Rich and powerful countries cannot ignore the consequences of their decisions on the most vulnerable,” Guterres said. “The international community must find ways to spare the Afghan people.”
The Taliban sparked outrage last week when they ordered secondary schools for girls to close, just hours after allowing them to reopen for the first time since taking power. “There is simply no justification for such discrimination,” said Antonio Guterres.
The United Nations and the conference’s co-host countries condemned these closures but insisted that the international community must not abandon the Afghan people, 60% of whom depend on international aid.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths has warned that essential services like health and education are now “on their knees” while millions are unable to access jobs and borrow to survive, with 80% of household spending be spent on food. The country is also experiencing its worst drought in decades.
Giving Afghans “hope for the future”.
Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari said it was important for the Taliban to hear from the Muslim world that “the teachings of Islam do not restrict women”.
“We must condemn every violation of human rights very strongly and speak out clearly with the Taliban, but we must not abandon Afghanistan either. We abandoned Afghanistan once and we know what the result was,” he added.
The UK has pledged to provide US$380 million in the next financial year and that at least 50% of that aid will go to women and girls.
Majed Al-Ansari said the goal of the conference was to give Afghans “hope for the future” by uniting them to ensure survival and respect for human rights in the country. “Afghanistan can be a lost cause or a beacon of hope,” he said.