On Monday, the United Nations will hold an assistance conference in Geneva in an attempt to raise more than $600 million for Afghanistan, warning of a humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover.
Even before the Taliban took control of Kabul last month, half of the country’s population, or 18 million people, was reliant on help. According to U.N. authorities and aid organizations, this amount is expected to rise due to drought and financial and food shortages.
Following the collapse of Afghanistan’s Western-backed government and the Taliban’s subsequent victory, billions of dollars in international donations came to an abrupt halt, putting even greater pressure on UN programs.
Despite this, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres claims that his agency is experiencing budgetary difficulties: “At the moment, the United Nations is unable to pay its own employees’ salaries,” he told reporters on Friday.
Top UN officials, including Guterres and the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, as well as scores of government leaders, including German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, will attend the Geneva summit, which is set to begin on Monday afternoon.
About a third of the $606 million being sought would be used by the U.N. World Food Programme which found that 93% of the 1,600 Afghans it surveyed in August and September were not consuming sufficient foods, mostly because they could not get access to cash to pay for it.
“It’s now a race against time and the snow to deliver life-saving assistance to the Afghan people who need it most,” said WFP deputy regional director Anthea Webb. “We are quite literally begging and borrowing to avoid food stocks running out.”
The World Health Organization, another U.N. agency that’s part of the appeal, is seeking to shore up hundreds of health facilities at risk of closure after donors backed out.