Belgium to give €2 million to support Afghanistan’s humanitarian needs
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Belgium to give €2 million to support Afghanistan’s humanitarian needs

Credit: Belga

Belgium will announce a €2 million contribution as part of a global effort to meet humanitarian needs in Afghanistan during the United Nations International Donor Conference for Afghanistan.

Ahead of the conference the UN put out a flash appeal for member states to donate a total of more than $600 million (around €508 million) to support people on the ground until the end of 2021.

“After the Taliban takeover, it is extremely important to support those organisations that can really make the difference between life and death for many Afghans: it’s about food, but also about essential care,” said Minister for Development Cooperation, Meryame Kitir, before the announcement on Monday.

“I want to make the Afghan people – especially girls and women – feel that they are not alone. They deserve our solidarity,” she added.

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Kitir stressed that, despite the many images being spread of people trying to flee Afghanistan in recent weeks as the Taliban came to power, the majority of the Afghan population has remained in the country.

“They have been living through difficult times for years and things do not seem to be improving,” she said, adding that, even before the Taliban took power, Afghanistan was heavily dependent on international aid.

“Ongoing conflict, extreme drought and COVID have meant that today 18 million people in Afghanistan – about half the population – depend on humanitarian aid to survive,” Kitir explained.

Ahead of the conference, Martin Griffiths, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, noted it was “clear Taliban leaders need humanitarian aid to be there,” and that they “understand the significance placed by the international community on providing guarantees so that aid agencies can function.”

“I think that drives them making the sort of commitments that they made to me. And hopefully that will drive their behaviour when we move from promises into practice,” he added.

The UN is now waiting for written assurances from the Taliban Deputy Prime Minister that aid agencies and their partners will be able to operate freely inside Afghanistan and have complete control of their operations.

The money donated following the appeal will go in full to the United Nations Humanitarian Country Fund, and will then be dispersed to humanitarian organisations such as the UN World Food Programme.

However, according to Kitir, the fund is still heavily underfunded, and threatens to meet just 37% of the needs in Afghanistan.

“That is why this donor conference is so important. We cannot let go of the Afghan people. And thanks to the UN, that humanitarian aid will also end up in the right hands,” she added.

Last week, the Taliban announced the leaders of its interim government, a first step towards formalising a leadership since its rapid insurgence throughout the country. A more permanent leadership is expected to be announced soon.