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Taliban appeal for humanitarian aid 'without political bias'

A man holds a child as vendors wait for customers at a market during heavy snowfall in Kabul, Afghanistan, on January 4, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The Taliban have called on the international community to send emergency humanitarian aid to Afghanistan without "political bias," as snow and freezing temperatures have worsened the already "sensitive situation" of millions of Afghans.

Deputy Taliban Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar said in a video appeal on Friday that the world had an obligation to help people in Afghanistan.

"We call for the international community, NGOs, and all the countries not to forget our poor people," Baradar said.

"In various places right now, people do not have food, accommodation, warm clothes, or money," he said, adding that the world "has to support Afghan people without any political bias."

Baradar said the weather had worsened the already "sensitive situation" of the Afghan people, and that the Taliban were prepared to help with the distribution of international aid across the country.

The Taliban have announced a state of emergency in Afghanistan, as snow has blanketed most of the central and northern parts of the country in recent days. Flooding has also affected some parts. On Friday, heavy snow covered the capital, Kabul, affecting air and road traffic and forcing businesses to shutter.

Many Afghans are struggling to afford heating during the severe winter weather.

The United Nations estimates that nearly 23 million Afghans – about 55 percent of the population – face extreme levels of hunger, with nearly nine million at risk of famine.

Afghanistan is grappling with its worst humanitarian crisis, as the United States seized nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan Central Bank after the Taliban took power in August 2020. The Taliban have repeatedly called for the release of the assets, but Washington has rebuffed the call.

Back in December last year, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a US-proposed resolution to help humanitarian aid reach Afghans, while seeking to keep funds out of Taliban hands. That resolution was welcomed by the Taliban authorities as a "good step."

Afghanistan's neighbor Iran said last month that it supported the delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghans regardless of political issues.

The Taliban have warned Western diplomats that insisting on sanctions as a means to pressure their governance could undermine security and trigger a wave of economic refugees.

The UN's special representative for Afghanistan also warned this week that the country is "on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe" and that its collapsing economy is heightening the risk of terrorism.

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