Millions of Afghans on verge of death: UN warns
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns that millions of Afghans are on the brink of death, pleading for action to save the Afghans' lives and economy.
UN chief Antonio Guterres urged Thursday the United States and the World Bank to take action and unfreeze the Afghan funds they have been holding since the Taliban came back to power in the country bearing the brunt of the chaotic US withdrawal, nearing economic collapse as the West withholds the country's funds following an occupation that lasted 20 years.
"We must... rapidly inject liquidity into the economy and avoid a meltdown that would lead to poverty, hunger, and destitution for millions," Guterres told reporters in New York.
Washington has frozen billions of dollars of assets, with aid supplies being heavily disrupted and over half the population on the brink of famine.
An estimated 4.7 million people will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022, 1.1 million children are children, aid agencies say.
Guterres called on Washington to take the lead in helping the country avoid a meltdown "because the major part of the world financial system works in dollars."
"I hope the remaining resources - more than $1.2 billion" from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) "will become available to help Afghanistan's people survive the winter," Guterres hoped.
The United States has seized some $9.5 billion in Central Bank assets. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have also suspended activities in Afghanistan. The two bodies have withheld aid as well as $340 million in reserves issued by the IMF in August.
Snowfall, rains exacerbated the suffering of Afghanistan’s people
"Freezing temperatures and frozen assets are a lethal combination for the people of Afghanistan," Guterres underlined.
The Taliban requested essential humanitarian relief without "political bias" in early January, stressing that recent snowfall and rains have exacerbated the suffering of Afghanistan’s people.
The United Nations Security Council had unanimously adopted a resolution facilitating humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in December.
According to the resolution, "payment of funds, other financial assets or economic resources, and the provision of goods and services necessary to ensure the timely delivery of such assistance or to support such activities are permitted."
The United States withdrew from Afghanistan in mid-August. Shortly after the Taliban took power in the country, the international community completely froze aid to Afghanistan amid warnings that the country would face major crises if the international community did not release the funds to the war-torn country.