International community hosts Afghanistan donor conference

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Photo taken on April 10, 2015 shows a general view of the Kabul city in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Xinhua/Ahmad Massoud)
Photo taken on April 10, 2015 shows a general view of the Kabul city in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Xinhua/Ahmad Massoud)

A United Nations-hosted donor conference for Afghanistan takes place on Monday, less than a month after the Taliban seized power in the country, in the face of a growing humanitarian crisis.

Afghans will need some 606 million dollars by December, according to UN calculations.

While many countries are willing to provide humanitarian aid, many are concerned about how it will be spent given that the Taliban are now in control, and say conditions should be attached to donations.

Some 40 ministers are due to attend the conference. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is also expected in Geneva, while others are likely to join online.

International troops withdrew from Afghanistan after a 20-year deployment and almost all have left since the Taliban takeover.

Basic services in Afghanistan are now on the verge of collapse, according to UN agencies, who say humanitarian aid would maintain medical services, water supply and sanitation facilities.

The financing would also provide for measures to support women and children and set up education projects. It could fund emergency shelters as some 3.5 million people are internally displaced.

Money is needed for food aid, according to the United Nations, which says there is not enough to eat in 93 per cent of the country’s homes.

UN Refugee Commissioner Filippo Grandi warned on Sunday that a “resurgence of fighting, human rights violations or the collapse of the economy and basic social services” could lead many more Afghans to flee abroad.

Grandi arrived in Kabul on Monday to assess the needs of displaced Afghans and hold talks with the Taliban about access to the country. He was met at the airport by Khalil Haqqani, the Taliban’s minister of refugees.

“It is up to us as an international community to now take responsibility for the people in Afghanistan and provide humanitarian aid where it is so urgently needed,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said before departing for Geneva.

“This requires appropriate access for humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan, as well as aid workers not having to fear intimidation and arbitrary restrictions by the Taliban in their work.”

Discussions have swirled as to how much legitimacy other countries should extend to the Taliban, such as formal recognition of their government and long-term development projects.

But Maas said that commitments in Afghanistan that go beyond pure emergency aid remain out of the question at this point, saying such a privilege would be determined by the Taliban’s actions.

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