UN chief urges US and World Bank to release funds for Afghans ‘on the brink of death’

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The UN chief warned on Thursday that millions of Afghans are on the “threshold of death”, urging the international community to fund the UN’s $5 billion humanitarian appeal, release frozen assets of Afghanistan and to revive its banking system to avoid economic and social collapse.

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

Afghanistan’s aid-dependent economy was already stumbling when the Taliban seized power in mid-August amid the chaotic departure of US and NATO troops after 20 years. The international community has frozen Afghanistan’s assets abroad and halted its economic support, unwilling to work with the Taliban, given their reputation for brutality during their 1996-2001 rule and their refusal to educate girls and enable women to work.

The UN says 8.7 million Afghans are on the brink of starvation and Guterres said it was essential to quickly inject cash into the Afghan economy ‘and avoid a collapse that would lead to poverty , hunger and misery for millions of people”.

It is “absolutely essential” to avoid a blackout, he stressed, “because with the current situation, you have Afghans on the brink of death”.

The secretary-general said the United States has “a very important role to play because most of the global financial system operates in dollars” and that the United States has frozen $7 billion in Afghan foreign reserves, mostly held in United States.

Freezing temperatures and frozen assets are a deadly combination for the Afghan people.

We need to do even more to quickly inject cash into the economy and avert the impending collapse that would lead to poverty, hunger and misery for millions of people. pic.twitter.com/S9IA4VWaDj

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) January 13, 2022 UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, are due to hold a virtual meeting on Friday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

António Guterres said that one of the reasons for the meeting was to try to create “mechanisms that allow an efficient injection of funds into the Afghan economy and, at the same time, create the conditions for the Afghan financial system to can work at the local level”. currency.”

UN chief says international funding should be allowed to pay salaries of doctors, sanitation workers, electrical engineers and other civil servants, as well as help Afghan institutions provide care health, education and other key services.

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

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

While calling on the international community to stand with the Afghan people, Guterres said he made an equally urgent appeal to the Taliban leadership “to recognize and protect basic human rights, and in particular the rights of women and girls. “, and that they build governmental institutions. in which all Afghans feel represented.

“Throughout Afghanistan, women and girls are missing from offices and classrooms,” said António Guterres. “No country can prosper by denying the rights of half its people.”

(AP)

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