THE United Nations is hosting a high-level donors conference to drum up emergency funds for Afghanistan after last month’s Taliban takeover of the country that stunned the world. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was leading the world body’s call for more than $600 million for the rest of this year in a “flash appeal” for Afghans after their country’s Government was toppled by the Taliban and US and NATO forces exited the 20-year war in a chaotic departure. The Secretary General Antonio Guterres later announced a USD 20 million allocation to support humanitarian operation in Afghanistan, saying that the “de facto” authorities in the war-torn country have “pledged” to cooperate to ensure assistance is delivered to the people.
“The people of Afghanistan need a lifeline. After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, they face perhaps their most perilous hour. Now is the time for the international community to stand with them,” Guterres said at a humanitarian conference on Afghanistan convened in Geneva. At the global conference, Guterres announced a USD 20 million allocation from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund to support the humanitarian operation in Afghanistan. Cautioning that “time is short and events move quickly in Afghanistan,” Guterres appealed to the international community to extend that “lifeline to the people of Afghanistan - and do everything we can - and everything we owe - to help them hold on to hope.” There are concerns that instability and upended humanitarian efforts, compounded by an ongoing drought, could further endanger lives and plunge Afghanistan toward famine.
The conference will put to the test some Western Governments and other big traditional UN donors who want to help everyday Afghans without handing a public relations victory or cash to the Taliban, who ousted the internationally backed Government in a lightning sweep. The UN’s World Food Program is to be a major beneficiary of any funds collected during Monday’s conference. Along with its partners, the UN is seeking $606 million for the rest of the year to help 11 million people. Coinciding with the conference in Geneva, the head of the UN refugee agency, Filippo Grandi, made a previously unannounced visit to Kabul. He wrote on Twitter that he would assess humanitarian needs and the situation of 3.5 million displaced Afghans — including over 500,000 who have been displaced this year alone.