UN seeks $5B to stabilize but still suffering Afghanistan

The UN is making what it calls a record $5 billion appeal to help Afghanistan and its neighbors

GENEVA — The United Nations on Tuesday issued what it called a record $5 billion call to help Afghanistan and its neighbors, warning that half of the country faces severe hunger, that millions of children are out of school and farmers are battling drought — Even after the Taliban took over in August, Afghanistan has stabilized from decades of conflict.

The appeal by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and UNHCR’s UNHCR reflects the world body’s attempt to help beleaguered civilians in a country now run by a militant group that many Western donors have fought against – but still oppose . The U.S.-led international coalition threw Afghanistan into chaos, and the Taliban took the country over the summer and returned to power.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has warned of a looming “disaster” in Afghanistan and said 23 million people – more than half of the country’s population – are in need of humanitarian aid. Without help, up to 1 million children under the age of five could face severe and acute malnutrition, the report said.

“We need to feed the families they live in. We need to get the seeds to the farmers they farm,” said OCHA chief Martin Griffiths. “We need to provide health services to clinics across the country, we need Protection services for all who want it. go home. “

“This is the largest appeal for humanitarian aid ever made by a single country, three times the amount required and actually raised in 2021,” he said.

The joint appeal seeks $4.4 billion for OCHA and its partners, and another $623 million for refugee agencies to help more than 6 million Afghans who have fled abroad, about 15 percent of Afghanistan’s population. Others continued to cross the border, UNHCR said, while noting that an estimated 175,000 people had returned to the country since the Taliban took over.

“The reality is that people go back because the situation is safer. The conflict between the Taliban and the previous government is over,” said Filippo Grandi, head of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “This has opened up some safe space, I think we need to take advantage of that. But to do that, we need those resources that belong to this attraction. “

Grandi went on to highlight the effectiveness of the aid, saying it “allows for a space for dialogue with the Taliban, which is invaluable” around issues that are important to many donors – such as women’s rights, girls’ schooling and minorities rights of the group and discuss these issues with the country’s new leaders every day.

“That’s the space we need to keep because at the moment, the political field is a little bit behind,” he said.

The United Nations has repeatedly said Afghans face one of the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crises, with the economy “in free fall” and women’s and girls’ rights “under attack.” According to the World Bank, the funding, if available, would be equivalent to about a quarter of the country’s total economic output in 2020, or more than $20 billion.