G20 leaders and ministers have agreed that they will have no choice but to involve the Taliban in sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, but say this will stop with political recognition of the Taliban as a government.
The consensus view came at a video conference on the Afghan crisis, where the EU stepped up its assistance to a total of € 1 billion. (£ 850 million) and it was agreed in principle that the IMF and the World Bank could provide assistance. Nearly $ 9 billion of Afghan assets in overseas banks have been frozen by the US.
Aid organizations such as the International Rescue Committee say Afghanistan is on the brink of “a humanitarian meltdown”, as it has been 75% dependent on foreign aid to survive – and support has dried up since the Taliban took power in August.
Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister and current rotating chairman of the G20, said there was agreement at the meeting to act through the UN and its agencies. “Dealing with the humanitarian crisis will require contacts with the Taliban, but that does not mean their recognition. We must recognize that they will be judged for what they do, not for what they say.”
He added: “It is very difficult to see how to help people in Afghanistan without involving the Taliban.”
Draghi said women’s lives had gone back 20 years, adding “right now” that there was no visible progress in terms of human rights, women’s rights, education or an inclusive government, the issues he said were future recognition from others countries would depend on.
In general, his remarks suggested a compromise between those who want to use recognition and access to aid as a lever to moderate the Taliban, and those who say that collective punishment of the Afghan people by withholding help is now not an option.
The meeting was the first time the world’s richest countries met to discuss the consequences of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
But neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed with the call and sent their foreign ministers. Boris Johnson also did not attend when he was on vacation.
As a reflection of diplomatic tensions, Russia has hosted a rival Afghanistan conference in Moscow on October 20, to which Pakistan, India and Iran as well as the Taliban have been invited.
The European Union started the procedure by announcing a further 700 million. EUR in emergency aid to Afghanistan and neighboring countries. The promise brings the total commitment of new financing to € 1 billion. following the EU management’s promise of € 300 million. to help prevent basic services in Afghanistan from collapsing and food shortages.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the country was in a make-or-break moment. He told reporters in New York: “Respecting international law and principles, we need to find ways to inject liquidity into the economy so as not to collapse. If we do not act and help the Afghans cope with this storm and do so soon, we will not only they but the whole world pay a high price. “
He said the cash could be provided through UN trust funds and other instruments. “I am particularly concerned about seeing promises made by the Taliban to Afghan women and girls not being kept,” he added.
He added that through September, the UN had engaged province by province with the Taliban to ensure that female UN staff could work freely with humanitarian aid.
The World Bank and the IMF, both of which have funds to help with reconstruction, also participated. Qatar, which has played a crucial role as a hub for refugees fleeing the country, has been invited and discussions are likely over the opening of Kabul airport.
In the run-up to the Doha Summit and speeches, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister appealed to the world for good relations, but avoided making firm commitments regarding girls’ education despite international demands to let all Afghan children go back to school.
“The international community needs to start cooperating with us,” said acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi at an event hosted by the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.
“With this, we will be able to stop uncertainty, and at the same time, we will be able to engage positively with the world,” he said.
Muttaqi called on the world to release $ 9 billion. of frozen Afghan assets abroad. . “Instead of pressure, the world should cooperate with us.”