Antonio Guterres says almost half of the Afghan population needs urgent help to survive after the takeover of the Taliban.
The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, warned of an impending ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ in Afghanistan, while urging countries to provide emergency funding after the final departure of US forces and the full takeover of the Taliban.
Guterres on Tuesday expressed his “serious concern about the deepening humanitarian and economic crisis in the country”, adding that basic services are “completely” collapsing.
“Afghan children, women and men now more than ever need the support and solidarity of the international community,” he said in a statement, pleading for financial support from nations.
“I call on all Member States to dig deep into the deepest distress of the people of Afghanistan. I call on them to provide timely, flexible and comprehensive funding, “said the UN Secretary-General.
UN spokeswoman Stephane Dujarric said the current $ 1.3 billion UN humanitarian appeal to Afghanistan was only 39 percent funded.
Guterres has announced that the UN will release details of a swift appeal to Afghanistan next week.
The information will set out the ‘most immediate humanitarian needs and funding requirements’ needed in the next four months, he said.
The deputy secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency aid coordinator, Martin Griffiths, will coordinate “the entire UN system” in preparation for the appeal, Guterres added.
He said almost half of Afghanistan’s population – 18 million people – urgently needed humanitarian aid to survive.
“One in three Afghans does not know where their next meal will come from. It is expected that more than half of all children under the age of five will be acutely malnourished in the coming year. ”
‘People are losing access to basic goods and services every day. A humanitarian catastrophe threatens, “Guterres said.
He added that severe drought and difficult winter conditions mean that extra food, shelter and health supplies must be ‘urgently fast’ to Afghanistan.
“I call on all parties to facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access for life-saving and subsistence supplies, as well as for all humanitarian workers – men and women,” he said.
Guterres said the commitment of humanitarian agencies to stay in Afghanistan and provide assistance “will not falter”.
The international body evacuated hundreds of its humanitarian personnel from Afghanistan ahead of the US withdrawal from the country, which was completed on Tuesday. The staff members were temporarily relocated to Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, to perform their duties remotely.
Guterres stressed the importance of ensuring that Kabul’s international airport remains open after the US withdrawal to facilitate large-scale aid deliveries.