The United Nations calls an international conference to aid Afghanistan on September 13

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The United Nations will convene an international aid conference for Afghanistan on September 13 in Geneva, to help prevent what the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, described as “imminent human catastrophe.” In a video posted on Twitter this Saturday, Guterres announced that he set the goal of seeking a rapid increase in funding for humanitarian aid destined for the Central Asian country, again under the rule of the Taliban since last August 15. “We need the international community to come together and support the Afghan people,” he said.

“We also call for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to ensure that Afghans continue to receive the essential services they need,” he said.

Many Afghans were fighting, even before the triumph of the fundamentalist militia offensive, to feed their families in the midst of a severe drought, with the country isolated and the economy in ruins, various agencies of the United Nations system have warned. One in three Afghans is food insecure, while more than 570,000 people are internally displaced by the conflict, according to the latest report from the UN humanitarian coordination in the country. On September 2, the UN World Food Program (WFP) warned that millions of Afghans could soon starve to death due to the combination of conflict, drought and COVID-19.

“The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and is committed to staying and fulfilling them,” Guterres said. The phrase “stay and fulfill”, in English Stay & Deliver, is the motto adopted by the United Nations in the face of the crisis in Afghanistan.

On August 24, nine days after the Taliban took Kabul, the World Bank announced a freeze on its funds for the country. The agency is not only one of the main donors to Afghanistan, but also directs the Trust Fund for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (ARTF for its acronym in English), the mechanism created in 2002 that brings together the country’s main donors – States and institutions, such as the EU – and whose objective is to coordinate budget assistance programs for the Government of Afghanistan, as well as priority national investment programs.

The International Monetary Fund has also suspended the disbursement of the 440 million dollars (370 million euros) that corresponded to Afghanistan this year as part of its financial assistance program. With the funding freeze by the United States and the European Union, the flow of aid that constituted more than 42% of Afghan GDP in 2020 has come to a complete halt. The Taliban regime will also not be able to access the foreign exchange reserves of the Afghan central bank, stored in the United States Federal Reserve, which at the moment does not allow them access to that money, which is around 9.4 billion dollars (7.9 billion euros). ). That figure would be enough to pay for Afghanistan’s imports for 18 months, according to an analysis by the magazine. Foreign Policy.

With all these funds on hold, the country is bankrupt. The Government does not have the cash to pay the salaries of civil servants and the number of Afghans who will require urgent humanitarian assistance is expected to increase significantly. The Taliban are also unable to pay for imports of the most basic goods, such as food. Afghanistan has the classic profile of a country mired in poverty and underdevelopment: a subsistence economy in rural areas, which depends largely on a climate that this year is being adverse due to drought, and a lack of industrial development which requires it to import any manufactured product, even something as basic as wheat flour. The country produces this cereal, but does not have the capacity to grind it on an industrial scale. Up to now, Afghan imports were financed almost entirely by money flows from abroad. Before the Taliban came to power, the United Nations raised to 1.28 billion dollars (1.077 million euros) the minimum sum to serve the most vulnerable Afghans this year. At the end of August, according to data from the organization, the UN had only collected 38% of that amount, which will now fall short.

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