INTERNATIONAL - EAST

Millions of Afghans are on verge of death: UN
January 15, 2022

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One-liner: The UN chief warned on Thursday that millions of Afghans are on the “verge of death," urging the international community to fund the UN's $5bn humanitarian appeals, release Afghanistan's frozen assets and jump-start its banking system to avert economic and social collapse.

Taliban's power: Afghanistan's aid-dependent economy was already stumbling when the Taliban seized power in mid-Aug amid the chaotic departure of US and NATO troops after 20 years.

  • The international community froze Afghanistan's assets abroad and halted economic support, unwilling to work with the Taliban, given their reputation for brutality during their 1996-2001 rule and refusal to educate girls and not allow women to work

Many starving: The UN says 8.7 million Afghans are on the brink of starvation and Guterres said it's critical to rapidly inject liquidity into the Afghan economy “and avoid a meltdown that would lead to poverty, hunger and destitution for millions.”

International funds: The UN chief said international funding should be allowed to pay the salaries of doctors, sanitation workers, electrical engineers and other civil servants as well as help Afghan institutions deliver health care, education and other key services.

  • Last month, the World Bank transferred $280mn from a reconstruction trust fund it administers for Afghanistan to the UN children's agency, UNICEF, and the World Food Program for their operations in the country, Guterres said

Zoom out: While appealing to the international community to support the Afghan people, Guterres said he was making an equally urgent appeal to Taliban leaders “to recognise and protect the fundamental human rights, and in particular the rights of women and girls,” and to build govt institutions in which all Afghans feel represented.