UN aid chief pushes to restart Afghanistan development aid

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 29 (Reuters) – Countries should restart some of the development aid to impoverished Afghanistan that stopped a year ago when the Taliban took power, the UN aid chief said on Monday, while the United States he told Russia and China to “put your money where your mouth is.”

Afghanistan has long relied heavily on development aid, which was cut when the international community demanded that the Taliban respect human rights, particularly girls and women whose access to work and school has been limited by Islamists. .

“Poverty is deepening, the population continues to grow and the de facto authorities have no budget to invest in their own future. It is clear to us that some development support needs to restart,” said the UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, to the UN Security Council. .

More than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million people need humanitarian aid and six million are at risk of famine, Griffiths said. More than a million children are estimated to “suffer from the most severe and life-threatening form of malnutrition” and could die without proper treatment, she said.

“Afghanistan’s de facto authorities must also do their part. Interference and bureaucratic procedures slow down humanitarian assistance when it is needed most. Women aid workers… must be allowed to work unhindered and safely. should allow girls to continue their education,” he said.

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The Taliban have not been formally recognized by any foreign government and are still subject to international sanctions, which the United Nations and aid groups say are now hampering humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.

‘PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS’

International banks are wary of violating sanctions and the United Nations and aid groups have been struggling to get enough money into the country for the past year.

“Humanitarian workers have provided more than $1 billion in cash to support program delivery, but the banking and liquidity crisis continues to affect the delivery of assistance and the daily lives of Afghans,” Griffiths said.

The United Nations has been trying to set up a system, described as a Humanitarian Exchange Fund (HEF), to exchange millions of dollars of aid for Afghan currency in a plan to stop aid and crises. and elude the Taliban leaders.

Griffiths said this plan was “still under discussion” with the Taliban.

Billions of dollars in Afghan central bank reserves, mainly in the United States, have also been frozen by foreign governments to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Taliban. Russia and China have called for those funds to be released.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “No country that is serious about containing terrorism in Afghanistan would advocate giving the Taliban instant and unconditional access to billions in assets.”

The Afghan central bank “was hollowed out a long time ago” and is currently unable to conduct responsible monetary policy, he said, citing a lack of credible systems to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

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Thomas-Greenfield said the United States was the largest aid donor to Afghanistan and called on Russia and China: “If you want to talk about how Afghanistan needs help, fine. But we humbly suggest you put your money where your mouth is.”

Russia and China dismissed his comments.

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Deepa Babington and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.