UN chief seeks funding to stave off 'humanitarian catastrophe' in Afghanistan

By Salaam Times and AFP


Children fill water from a tap installed along a road in Kabul. [Sajjad Hussain/AFP]

UNITED NATIONS -- United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres Tuesday (August 31) warned of a looming "humanitarian catastrophe" in Afghanistan as he urged countries to provide emergency funding in the wake of the Taliban's takeover of the country.

Guterres expressed his "grave concern at the deepening humanitarian and economic crisis in the country," adding that basic services threatened to collapse "completely."

"Now more than ever, Afghan children, women and men need the support and solidarity of the international community," he said in a statement, as he pleaded for financial support from nations.

"I urge all member states to dig deep for the people of Afghanistan in their darkest hour of need. I urge them to provide timely, flexible and comprehensive funding," the secretary-general said.


A female nurse examines an X-ray of a patient at Wazir Akbar Khan hospital in Kabul on September 1. [Aamir Qureshi/AFP]

Guterres announced that the UN would release details of a flash appeal for Afghanistan next week.

The information will detail the "most immediate humanitarian needs and funding requirements" needed over the next four months, he said.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Martin Griffiths will co-ordinate "the entire UN system" in preparation of the appeal, Guterres added.

Almost half -- 18 million people -- of the Afghan population need urgent humanitarian assistance to survive, he said.

"One in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from. More than half of all children under five are expected to become acutely malnourished in the next year.

"People are losing access to basic goods and services every day. A humanitarian catastrophe looms," said Guterres.

Severe drought and coming harsh winter conditions meant extra food, shelter and health supplies "must be urgently fast-tracked" to Afghanistan, he added.

"I call on all parties to facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access for life-saving and life-sustaining supplies, as well as for all humanitarian workers -- men and women," he said.

The commitment of humanitarian agencies to stay in Afghanistan and deliver aid "will not waver", said Guterres.

Female journalists quit

Meanwhile, female journalists are being forced to abandon their jobs in another consequence of the Taliban's takeover.

The number of female journalists working in Kabul has dwindled to below 100 since the Taliban took power, compared with 700 before, a media watchdog said Wednesday.

The figures amount to "a quasi-disappearance of women journalists in the capital", Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF or Reporters Without Borders) said.

As Taliban forces took over Kabul, female journalists were increasingly told to stay home, harassed, prevented from going on reporting assignments, or even beaten, said RSF.

Despite assurances by the Taliban that they would respect press freedom and allow female journalists to work, RSF said, "A new media landscape is emerging without them."

The organisation called on Afghanistan's new rulers to guarantee the freedom and safety of women working in journalism.

"It is essential that female journalists be able to return to work without being bothered, which is their most fundamental right," RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

Legacy of violence

Violence targeting female journalists has long cast a dark shadow on Afghan life.

In the months before the fall of Kabul on August 15, terrorists killed a number of female journalists nationwide.

In March, gunmen killed three female employees of Enikass Radio in Jalalabad. Last December, gunmen killed Rahmatullah Nekzad in Ghazni province and Malalai Maiwand in Nangarhar province.

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The international community must help the government of the Islamic Emirate with cash so that they can pay the salaries of government officials and teachers. It has been for two months now as the government officials, teachers and employees of other government departments have not received their salaries. One of the main reasons why people are fleeing Afghanistan is because of these economic problems, and they think that the international community may not recognize the government of Taliban and that they will not be able to pay the salaries of the former government’s employees.


The international community must increase its aids to Afghanistan, as poverty and hunger increase in Afghanistan and about 20 million people in Afghanistan face economic crisis.


This is very good news for the war-torn people of Afghanistan. We thank the United Nations for caring for the poor people of Afghanistan and hope that it will resume its humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan as soon as possible.


The people of Afghanistan call on the international community, especially the United States of America, to continue its assistance to the people of Afghanistan. If they left Afghanistan, their aids must continue. Poverty and unemployment have risen since Taliban took over power in Afghanistan, and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee the country. The international community, America and the European Union's member countries must continue their humanitarian cooperation with Afghanistan and work to create jobs in this country. Hundreds of civilian organizations and institutions, which were operating in Afghanistan and were funded by the western countries, have ceased their operations since Taliban came to power, and thousands of people who were working in these institutions have lost their jobs. These institutions should resume their operations. These institutions were very useful to the economy of the Afghan people because on one hand, they were operating in various developmental sectors in the country and on the other hand, thousands of people were employed there and each of them belonged to a family through which thousands of families were provided livelihood. Therefore, the international community must resume its assistance to the people of Afghanistan and work to alleviate poverty in this country.


The people of Afghanistan expect no other cooperation from the United Nations. If it just resends Afghanistan the money of the Afghan people, which it has frozen, that is it. Because the salaries of all government officials, teachers and other government employees are related to this money. The government officials did not receive their salaries for the previous month, and if they do not receive their salaries this month, they will have to take their household items and sell it in the market to prepare food for their families. Freezing of the money of Afghanistan in America caused people not to withdraw some of the money they had deposited in the banks. The money that is frozen by the United Nations' organization does not belong to Taliban, but it belongs to the people of Afghanistan, and it must be unfrozen again.