| 2 March 2024, Saturday |

Afghanistan: UN launches ‘largest ever’ aid appeal

An appeal that seeks to raise $4.4 billion to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan, has been launched by the UN and its partners, to be he largest-ever humanitarian aid appeal for a single country.

“This is a stop-gap, an absolutely essential stop-gap measure that we are putting in front of the international community today,” explained UN Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief chief Martin Griffiths in Geneva. “Without this being funded, there won’t be a future; we need this to be done; otherwise, there will be outflow, there will be suffering.”

The UN said that 22 million people inside Afghanistan and a further 5.7 million displaced Afghans in five neighbouring countries need vital relief this year.

Aid agencies describe Afghanistan’s plight as one of the world’s most rapidly growing humanitarian crises. According to UN humanitarian coordination office OCHA, half the population now faces acute hunger, over nine million people have been displaced and millions of children are out of school.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for $623 million to support refugees and host communities in the neighbouring countries. “There is a regional dimension to this crisis, represented by the Afghan refugees but also Afghans with many other ‘stay’ arrangements in neighbouring countries,” Grandi pointed out. He insisted that there is a need “to stabilise the situation inside Afghanistan, including that of displaced people… and to prevent a larger refugee crisis, a larger crisis of external displacement.”

The international community should not “shut the door” on the people of Afghanistan, added Griffiths. “Humanitarian partners are on the ground, and they are delivering, despite the challenges. Help us scale up and stave off wide-spread hunger, disease, malnutrition and ultimately death by supporting the humanitarian plans we are launching today.”

The scale of need is already enormous, the UN officials stressed, warning that if sufficient action is not taken to support the Afghanistan and regional response plans, next year they will be asking for $10 billion.

Although the crisis in Afghanistan is blamed by many on the Taliban, which came into power last August, it has since been pointed out that the Biden administration in Washington has frozen $9.5 billion of assets belonging to the beleaguered country.