Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian catastrophe, the UN says

With millions facing hunger and almost the entire population on the brink of poverty, Afghanistan may experience the worst humanitarian crisis we have ever seen, a UN Development Program official told CNBC this week.

Ca, said Wednesday.

“Afghanistan is probably facing the worst humanitarian catastrophe we’ve ever seen,” Al Dardari told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“We have never seen an economic shock of that magnitude, and we have never seen a humanitarian crisis of that magnitude,” he said. Funding for the humanitarian crisis and for essential services is crucial to sustaining life and livelihoods in the Central Asian country, he added.

Several reports say several areas in Afghanistan are also facing drought, even as winter approaches.

What is the world doing?

When the Taliban suddenly swept to power in August, world governments cut off Afghanistan’s access to international finance and froze the Afghan central bank’s $ 10 billion in assets abroad, in an attempt to stop the hardline Islamists from accessing that money.

This led to a collapse in public finances, and many workers stopped receiving wages, which increased the pressure on the country’s banking system.

The international community has not yet recognized the militant group as the de facto rulers of Afghanistan.

A fruit supplier is waiting for customers in the fruit and vegetable market in Kabul on November 11, 2021.

Hector Retamal | AFP | Getty Images

Pakistan on Thursday hosted a meeting in Islamabad with representatives from China, Russia and the United States to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Officials from the four countries also met with senior Taliban representatives on the sidelines, according to the U.S. State Department.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan “sends essential food, emergency medical supplies [and] winter shelters to provide immediate relief “to Afghans. He also called on the international community to fulfill” its collective responsibility to avert a serious humanitarian crisis “in Afghanistan.

UNDP’s Al Dardari said the international community can do much on the humanitarian front and to help keep essential services afloat.

“We are now talking about immediate, short-term interventions while keeping our eyes on the medium and long term,” he said.

Getting money in the hands of Afghans

Last month, the UN launched a special trust fund to immediately get cash in the hands of everyday Afghans – through grants to small businesses and cash-for-work projects that offer temporary income to those without jobs so they can help restore local infrastructure. .

Germany, for its part, has already promised to provide 50 million euros ($ 57 million), while the UN called on other donors to make commitments.

Al Dardari said the UN has so far used a combination of Afghan banks – those that still operate and can conduct currency operations – and private money service providers to get funds directly to the recipients.

Separately, in October, the EU promised a support package to Afghanistan and neighboring countries worth about 1 billion euros. But in general, EU development aid to the country is still frozen.

But media reports this month said the Taliban banned the use of foreign currency in Afghanistan, which could further disrupt the country’s already struggling economy.

Clarification: The title of this report has been changed to more accurately reflect the scale of Afghanistan’s crisis predicted by Al Dardari.

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