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UN appeals for $600m in donations for Afghanistan aid

Afghan vendors wait for customers at a roadside stall in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 13, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations (UN) has called for more than 600 million dollars in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan while raising the alarm about the collapse of basic services in the war-ravaged country.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced on Tuesday that millions of people in Afghanistan were in need of food aid and health assistance, urging donors to allocate a total of US $606 million for the plight of Afghans until the end of the year.

"Basic services in Afghanistan are collapsing and food and other lifesaving aid is about to run out," OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke told a UN briefing in Geneva. "We urge international donors to support this appeal fast and generously."

Laerke said the donation was needed to provide critical food and livelihood assistance to nearly 11 million people, and essential health services to 3.4 million people, after the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan last month resulted in the exodus of aid workers and subsequent funding cuts.

The funds would also go toward treatment for acute malnutrition in more than a million children and women, water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions, as well as the protection of children and survivors of gender-based violence.

The issue will be discussed at a ministerial meeting in Geneva hosted by UN chief Antonio Guterres next Monday.

Guterres' spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, warned last week that Afghanistan — currently under the control of the Taliban after 20 years of war — is facing a "looming humanitarian catastrophe."

Aid groups warn of 'humanitarian crisis' in Afghanistan

Meanwhile, a number of international aid agencies called on Tuesday for global support for 18 million Afghans in need of humanitarian assistance due to conflict, drought, and the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said conflict, drought, and the pandemic had rendered 18 million Afghans in need of humanitarian assistance, calling for urgent international action.

"Some 18 million Afghans — half the population — are in need of humanitarian assistance as severe drought compounds hardships caused by years of conflict and the pandemic," an IFRC statement said.

"After living through decades of hardships, Afghans now face the ravages of a climate crisis, a global pandemic and internal displacement," the statement said. "Urgent international action is needed to support millions of people with the necessities of life through the coming months and Afghanistan's harsh winter."

It added that tens of thousands of families had left their homes, seeking food and shelter in urban areas, where some are staying in relief camps without food or income.

Medical charity Doctors without Borders (MSF) said the war-torn country's vulnerable healthcare system was facing "potential collapse."

The United States and its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext that the Taliban militants were harboring al-Qaeda. The invasion removed the Taliban from power but it worsened the security situation in the country.

The group intensified their offensives and rapidly overran major cities over the past month as the United States started what was seen as a hasty withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan.

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