Millions of Afghans’ lives and livelihoods in danger without support, warns UN

Millions of Afghans’ lives and livelihoods in danger without support, warns UN
Credit: OCHA

The head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reminded the international community on Wednesday that Afghans must not be forgotten as the world’s attention is focused on the war in Ukraine.

UNDP warns about the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan after the Taleban take-over of power in August last year. Afghanistan has suffered from civil war and foreign interventions for the last 40 years, including the nine-year long war in the 1980s when it fought the Soviet army.

“Afghans must not be forgotten as the world turns its attention to the war in Ukraine,” said Achim Steiner, the head of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), ahead of a global pledging conference. The High-level Pledging Event on Supporting the Humanitarian Response in Afghanistan will take place on Thursday (31 March).

The meeting will be convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, joined by Member State co-hosts including the Governments of Qatar, the United Kingdom and Germany. The meeting will be held at ministerial level and will take place online through a virtual platform.

In addition to the $4.4 billion needed to meet humanitarian needs, UN agencies working in Afghanistan urgently require a further US$3.6 billion to sustain essential social programmes to help 38 million people under the UN’s Framework. UNDP requests US$134.6 million for Afghanistan this year to support its response.

Achim Steiner urged continued investment to save the lives and livelihoods of the Afghan people. He also stressed the importance of girls’ and women’s rights in the country. He made the comments during a two-day trip to the country where he met with women business owners, academics, civil society representatives, private sector, and decision makers.

Recent decisions to bar girls from secondary education from Grade 6 onwards is of great concern. UNDP is committed to working with UN agencies to defend and promote girls’ and women’s access to education and work, and to protect these rights.

“Both boys and girls must be allowed in the classrooms because the future of Afghanistan must be for all Afghans, not just a selected few. UNDP will continue to help Afghans to create strong socio-economic foundations from which to grow from the ground up.”

“We reported late last year that an estimated 97 percent of Afghans could be living in poverty by mid-2022, and regrettably, that number is being reached faster than anticipated. And with commodities pricing skyrocketing globally, we know that people here cannot afford to meet their basic human needs like food, healthcare, and education.

Following the change in government, Afghanistan is facing a potential non-reversable economic collapse, a frozen banking system and liquidity shortage leaving as many as 80 percent of people in debt, according to UNDP

“In building a better future in Afghanistan, the country must retain its thought leaders and young people who are desperate to create the pathways forward in ways that benefit all,” Steiner concluded. “The very future of the country must be one built upon human rights and dignity, access to livelihoods, and one that leaves no one behind.”

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