Heads of government and foreign ministers from the world’s 20 major economies or the G20 at a virtual meeting on Tuesday (12/10) agreed to find ways to inject more funds into Afghanistan.
The talks came after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the war-torn country’s economy, now under Taliban control, was approaching humanitarian catastrophe.
“If we don’t act and help Afghanistan weather this storm, and do it immediately, not only Afghanistan but the whole world will pay a heavy price,” Guterres said in New York hours before G20 leaders held an extraordinary meeting on Afghanistan, led by Prime Minister Italian Minister Mario Draghi.
The meeting marked the first time the world’s richest countries have met to discuss the consequences of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the takeover of the Taliban in August.
“Without food, without jobs, without protection of their rights, we will see more and more Afghans leaving their homes in search of a better life. The flow of illegal drugs, criminal and terrorist networks is also likely to increase,” Guterres said.
As the G20 meeting began, the UN Secretary-General tweeted: “Banks are closed and essential services, such as healthcare, have been suspended in many places. I urge the world to take action and inject liquidity into the Afghan economy to avoid collapse.”
That important warning was repeated by Draghi and other G20 leaders during the summit. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said, “We have to make sure that the country does not collapse.”
The European Union during the summit announced a $1.15 billion aid package for Afghanistan “to prevent a major humanitarian and socioeconomic collapse.”
The leaders emphasized how precarious life is for the majority of Afghans.
In addition to examining how to provide urgent humanitarian support to the Afghan population, the leaders discussed the fight against terrorism and how to pressure the Taliban to allow freedom of movement at home and make way for Afghans wishing to leave the country.
The latest UN figures show that this year alone more than half a million Afghans have been displaced by fighting; nearly 17 million face a level of food insecurity crisis; and nearly half of all children under five are malnourished due to conflict, drought and the coronavirus pandemic. [my/jm]