UN Humanitarian Aid Coordinator Martin Griffiths, briefing the ambassadors, reported on the ongoing hardship and uncertainty facing Afghans, nearly half of whom: 24 million people – need help to survive.
“The crisis in Afghanistan is a humanitarian crisis, but it is not just that. It’s an economic crisis. It’s a climate crisis. It’s a hunger crisis. It’s a financial crisis. But it’s not a hopeless crisis,” he said.
A critical situation
While conflict, poverty, climate shock and food insecurity have long been a “sad reality” for Afghanistan, Mr Griffiths outlined why the current situation is so critical.
First, large-scale development aid has been halted for a year in a country that has already suffered from severe food insecurity and malnutrition, which have only worsened.
Humanitarians also face an “exceptionally challenging” work environment, he added, as they deal with the factualo government is “labour-intensive”.
Liquidity crisis, reversal of rights
Furthermore, there is no confidence in the domestic banking sector which has caused a liquidity crisis, which has affected aid delivery. Negotiations are ongoing with the Taliban leaders for a humanitarian exchange facility intended to partially alleviate the liquidity crisis.
In the meantime women and girls “have been pushed to the sidelines”Griffiths added. The acquired rights have been reversed and adolescent girls have been out of school for a year.
“In the 21st century, we shouldn’t have to explain why girls’ education and women’s empowerment are important to them, to their communities, to their countries, and indeed to all of us,” he said.
The UN’s head of relief stressed that preserving basic services alongside humanitarian aid “remains the only way to prevent a disaster even greater than what we have seen these many months.”
He reported that poverty is still increasingthe population continues to grow, and the de facto authorities have no budget to invest in their own future, making it clear that “any development aid needs to be restarted”.
A $4.4 billion humanitarian response plan for Afghanistan currently has a $3.14 billion gap, he said.
With winter approaching, more than $600 million is urgently needed to support priority activities such as upgrades and repairs to shelters, as well as providing warm clothing and blankets.
In addition, $154 million is needed to pre-position supplies, including food and livelihoods, before winter weather cuts off access to some parts of the country.
Prosperity and safety
“The people of Afghanistan have shown incredible resilience over the decades and over the past year. Our job is to help them thrive, prosper and be safe,said Mr Griffiths, who also called for action by the de facto authorities.
“Bureaucratic interference and procedures delay humanitarian aid when it is most needed. Female humanitarian aid workers – both nationally and internationally – must be able to work unhindered and safely. And girls should be able to continue their education.”
Markus Potzel, the Acting Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, reported on the UN’s continued involvement in the de facto authorities, as well as efforts to promote inclusive governance, rights and freedoms.
He said the Taliban have been “ambiguous” about the extent to which they are willing to engage, based on their compliance with their interpretation of Sharia.
Mr. Potzel underlined the essential need to move “beyond an exchange of hardened views” to a sustainable dialogue between the Taliban, other Afghan stakeholders, the wider region and the international community.
“Such a dialogue must put the interests of all Afghans first”, he advised. “The future stability of Afghanistan rests on meeting the needs of the Afghan people, preserving their rights and reflecting the country’s diversity in all governance structures.”