UN chief warns millions of Afghans are on ‘verge of death’ | Humanitarian Crises News

Antonio Guterres appeals to the United States and the World Bank to unfreeze Afghanistan’s funds to avoid economic and social collapse.

The United Nations Secretary-General warned that millions of Afghans are on the verge of “death” and urged the international community to fund the $5 billion UN humanitarian appeal, release frozen Afghan assets, and start up its banking system to avoid economic and social collapse.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Thursday that “freezing temperatures and frozen assets are a deadly combination for the people of Afghanistan” and “the rules and conditions that prevent funds from being used to save lives and the economy must be suspended in this emergency.” continent.”

Afghanistan’s aid-dependent economy was already faltering when the Taliban seized power in mid-August amid the chaotic departure of US and NATO forces after 20 years.

The international community froze Afghanistan’s assets abroad and suspended economic support, due to its unwillingness to work with the Taliban, given their reputation for brutality during their 1996-2001 rule and their refusal to educate girls and allow women to work.

The United Nations said 8.7 million Afghans were on the brink of starvation and Guterres said it was critical to quickly inject liquidity into the Afghan economy “and avoid a collapse that could lead to poverty, hunger and destitution for millions”.

He stressed that it is “absolutely necessary” to avoid collapse, “because in the current situation you have Afghans on the verge of death.”

The Secretary-General said that the United States had “a very important role to play because most of the financial system in the world operates in dollars” and the United States had frozen $7 billion in Afghan foreign reserves, mainly held in the United States.

United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths and International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer are scheduled to hold a virtual meeting on Friday with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

Guterres said one of the reasons for the meeting was to try to create “mechanisms that would allow for effective injection of funds into the Afghan economy and, at the same time, create conditions for the financial system in Afghanistan to be able to function at the local level.” Currency”.

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 provide health care, education and other key services.

Guterres said the World Bank last month transferred $280 million from a reconstruction trust fund it administers for Afghanistan to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF and the World Food Program for their operations in the country.

“I hope the remaining resources – more than $1.2 billion – will become available to help the Afghan people survive the winter,” he said.

While appealing to the international community to support the Afghan people, Guterres said he was making an equally urgent appeal to Taliban leaders “to recognize and protect fundamental human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls,” and to build government institutions. All Afghans feel represented.

“Across Afghanistan, there are women and girls missing from offices and classrooms,” Guterres said. “No country can prosper while denying the rights of half its population.”

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