The humanitarian situation for the Afghan people is dire: 600,000 people, half of them children, have been displaced by war and fear of violence; hunger is widespread, with more than one million children under age five in danger of starvation; the health care system is collapsing.
Addressing the first high-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan since the takeover by the Taliban, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “The people of Afghanistan need a lifeline. After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, they face perhaps their most perilous hour. Now is the time for the international community to stand with them.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda-Thomas Greenfield told the conference “unequivocally,” that “the United States is committed to providing humanitarian assistance and supporting the Afghan people.”
She announced nearly $64 million in new humanitarian aid, to be dispensed through the United Nations and NGOs, which will bring the total U.S. assistance to Afghans this fiscal year to $330 million. “This funding,” she said, “will help provide lifesaving food assistance. It will meet critical health and nutrition needs. It will address the protection concerns of women, children, and people who belong to ethnic, minority, and other religious groups. And it will help more children - including girls – go back to school. And it will provide clean, potable water.”
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield insisted, however, this funding alone is not enough to support Afghans and the efforts of the UN and NGO partners. Afghans also need neighboring countries to open borders; experienced aid workers; oral and written commitments by the Taliban about operating rights of humanitarian agencies, and the treatment and rights of minority groups, women, and girls to be upheld. “Words are not enough,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “We must see action.” She deplored reports that the Taliban are obstructing and interfering in aid delivery and protection efforts, including by prohibiting female staff from saving lives, and carrying out retribution against the recipients and providers of aid. “That is frightening and unacceptable,” she said.
“This is a moment for the international community to unite,” declared Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “Let us commit today to meeting this urgent appeal for financial support. Commit to standing by humanitarian workers as they do their all-important work, and to stepping up humanitarian action in Afghanistan so that we can save the lives of Afghans in need.”