| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Afghan Taliban leaders appeal for help as migrant crisis looms

On Saturday, senior Taliban officials pleaded for foreign assistance to confront the country’s increasing economic crisis, which has fanned worries of another refugee exodus.

The remarks, made at a special conference to commemorate the United Nations’ International Migrant Day, highlighted the new Islamist Taliban government’s attempt to connect with the international community, four months after seizing power in Kabul.

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the movement’s deputy foreign minister, said it was the obligation of countries like the United States, which have frozen billions of dollars in central bank reserves, to assist Afghanistan in its recovery after decades of war.

“The impact of the frozen funds is on the common people and not Taliban authorities,” he told the conference, attended by representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the United Nations refugee organization.

U.N. bodies estimate that millions of Afghans could face hunger over the winter without urgent help, but aid has been hampered by international unwillingness to engage directly with the Taliban, in part because of concern over rights for women and political inclusion.

The abrupt withdrawal of foreign aid following the Taliban victory has pushed Afghanistan’s fragile economy close to collapse. Millions are without work and the banking system is only partially functional.

“If the political and economic situation doesn’t change, there will be more migration,” Stanikzai said.

The United States has issued guidance that would permit personal cash remittances to Afghanistan but it has not relented on its refusal to release the $9 billion in central bank reserves or lift sanctions on a number of Taliban leaders.

Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross on Saturday in Islamabad, ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

He said the Taliban welcomed international humanitarian organizations and gave assurances that they would be allowed to work unimpeded.

  • Reuters