G20 Leaders to Discuss Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan

With the humanitarian and economic crisis facing Afghanistan, G20 leaders are scheduled to begin meeting virtually on Tuesday to discuss ways to meet aid needs and address security concerns following the Taliban’s takeover of power in August.

Italian PM Mario Draghi is hosting the summit, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, US President Joe Biden, Indian PM Narendra Modi and G20 leaders from European countries among those expected to participate.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell pledged Monday for help, telling an EU ministerial meeting that “the humanitarian and socioeconomic situation in Afghanistan is on the verge of collapse.”

Josep Borrell.

Josep Borrell.

“Today we agreed to take a measured approach to providing direct assistance to the Afghan people to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, while of course not acknowledging the Taliban,” Borrell said. “We will deliver assistance through our multilateral partners while respecting the agreed principles of engagement.”

Guterres said Monday that Afghanistan is facing a defining moment while calling on the world to act.

Prior to the takeover by the Taliban, international aid accounted for 75 percent of Afghanistan’s spending, but the government and international organizations have stopped funding and frozen Afghan assets.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Guterres said Monday that banks in Afghanistan were closed and that healthcare and other essential services had been suspended in many places. He warned that the humanitarian crisis, which affects half the country’s population, was getting bigger.

“The Afghan people cannot suffer collective punishment for the bad behavior of the Taliban,” Guterres said. [uh/ab]

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