UN aid chief calls for restart of development aid to Afghanistan

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 29 (Reuters) – Countries should resume some of the development aid for impoverished Afghanistan that was cut off a year ago when the Taliban took power, the head of the country said on Monday. help from the UN, while the United States has asked Russia and China to “put your money where your mouth is.”

Afghanistan has long relied heavily on development aid, which was reduced when the international community demanded that the Taliban respect human rights, especially girls and women whose access to work and school was limited by the Islamists.

“Poverty is getting worse, the population continues to grow and the de facto authorities have no budget to invest in their own future. It is clear to us that part of the development aid must be restarted”, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council. .

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More than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million people need humanitarian aid and six million are at risk of starvation, Griffiths said. It is estimated that more than a million children “suffer from the most severe and life-threatening form of malnutrition” and could die without proper treatment, he said.

“The de facto authorities of Afghanistan must also do their part. Interference and bureaucratic procedures slow down humanitarian assistance when it is most needed. Women aid workers … must be allowed to work unhindered and in complete safety. safety. And girls must be allowed to continue their education,” he said.

The Taliban have not been officially recognized by any foreign government and are still subject to international sanctions which the United Nations and aid groups say are now hampering humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.

‘ACT RATHER THAN TALK’

International banks are reluctant to breach sanctions and the United Nations and aid groups have struggled to get enough money into the country over the past year.

“Humanitarians have provided over $1 billion in cash to support program delivery, but the cash and banking crisis continues to impact aid delivery and daily life. Afghans,” Griffiths said.

The United Nations has attempted to launch a system – described as a Humanitarian Exchange Facility (HEF) – to exchange millions of dollars of aid for Afghan currency as part of a plan to stem aid and economic crises and to circumvent the Taliban leaders.

Griffiths said that plan was “still in deliberation” with the Taliban.

Billions of dollars in Afghan central bank reserves, held mostly in the United States, have also been frozen by foreign governments to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Taliban. Russia and China have requested that these funds be released.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “No country serious about containing terrorism in Afghanistan would advocate giving the Taliban instant and unconditional access to billions in assets.”

Afghanistan’s central bank “was drained a long time ago” and cannot currently conduct responsible monetary policy, she said, citing a lack of credible systems to combat money laundering and terrorist financing .

Thomas-Greenfield said the United States was the largest aid donor to Afghanistan and called on Russia and China: “If you want to talk about how Afghanistan needs help, that’s is fine. But we humbly suggest you put your money where your mouth is.”

Russia and China rejected his remarks.

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Deepa Babington and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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