Diplomacy

US, France pledge millions in new aid for Afghanistan

By Salaam Times and AFP

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A girl searches for recyclable materials at a garbage dump on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif on May 5, 2020. [Farshad Usyan/AFP]

The United States pledged $64 million in new humanitarian assistance to those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the US State Department announced Monday (September 13).

The assistance will be distributed through independent humanitarian organisations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the State Department said in a statement.

It will support directly the more than 18.4 million vulnerable Afghans in the region including Afghan refugees, it added.

"This funding will allow our partners to provide lifesaving protection, shelter, livelihoods support, essential health care, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services to respond to the needs generated by recent conflict and compounded by the severe drought and other natural disasters, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," the statement said.

"The United States is the largest single humanitarian donor to Afghanistan, and with this announcement, will have provided nearly $330 million this fiscal year alone," it continued.

The United States will also work with the international community to help ensure "unhindered humanitarian access, freedom of movement for aid workers of all genders, safety and security of humanitarian staff, and safe passage for all those who wish to leave Afghanistan".

The assistance brings total US humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region to almost $4 billion since 2002.

Afghans at risk

Separately, France on Monday also pledged to donate money to Afghanistan, saying it will contribute €100 million ($118 million) for emergency humanitarian work in the country following a UN flash appeal.

"Half of the (Afghan) population is now at risk, including more than four million women and around 10 million children," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a high-level ministerial meeting on the situation in Afghanistan in Geneva.

"It is our responsibility to be at their side in this new ordeal," Le Drian said.

France promised "€100 million to tackle this emergency", he said.

The pledge came after UN chief António Guterres on Monday urged countries to dig deep and provide desperately needed aid to Afghans, and to support women and others whose rights appear threatened.

Speaking to ministers gathered for a donor conference for the violence-torn country, Guterres insisted that "the people of Afghanistan need a lifeline".

"After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, they face perhaps their most perilous hour," he said at the UN's European headquarters in Geneva.

"Let us be clear: This conference is not simply about what we will give to the people of Afghanistan. It is about what we owe."

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