U.N. Announces $1 Billion in Pledges for Afghanistan Relief, U.S. Commits $64 Million

Internally displaced children gather near their makeshift campsite during a free medical camp at Shahr-e-Naw Park in Kabul on september 11, 2021. (Photo by Hoshang Hashimi / AFP) (Photo by HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images)

The United Nations announced on Monday it has collected $1 billion in pledges for humanitarian relief in Afghanistan, a sum far greater than the $600 million it originally sought. The United States chipped in $64 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). 

The Taliban, meanwhile, continues to gleefully parade the $64 billion in military hardware it seized from the U.S. and Afghan military during President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal.

“One in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from. The poverty rate is spiraling, and basic public services are close to collapse,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said as the donor conference in Geneva began on Monday.

“The people of Afghanistan need a lifeline. After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, they face perhaps their most perilous hour,” he cautioned.

Guterres went further and called on the international community to “make cash available to allow the Afghan economy to breathe,” a plea that would seem to require reversing decisions by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Western governments to freeze Afghanistan’s assets and suspend assistance programs after the Taliban overthrew the elected civilian government.

U.N. emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths said Monday that funds began flowing in after the Taliban wrote a letter pleading for aid and promising not to steal the money or interfere with humanitarian relief efforts.

“We are committed to all rights of women, rights of minorities and principles of freedom of expression in the light of religion and culture, therefore we once again reiterate our commitment and will gradually take concrete steps with the help of the international community,” the Taliban wrote, according to Griffiths.

Griffiths said humanitarian funding must not be used as political leverage against the Taliban regime, not even to secure improvements in human rights for the Afghan people.

“The lives of millions of Afghan civilians are at stake, and so any sanctions or counterterrorism measures applied by member states must always exclude, exempt impartial humanitarian activities from their scope,” he said.

The U.N.’s acceptance of this letter is perplexing given the numerous human rights violations already perpetrated by the brutal Taliban regime against women, minorities, and Afghans who seek to exercise their freedom of expression. 

On Friday, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) blasted the Taliban for using violence to prohibit demonstrations and shutting down the Internet to prevent dissidents from organizing. Taliban thugs have murdered several protesters, beaten and imprisoned many others, and severely beaten journalists who attempted to cover the demonstrations.

“We call on the Taliban to immediately cease the use of force towards, and the arbitrary detention of, those exercising their right to peaceful assembly and the journalists covering the protests,” OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said on Friday.

On Monday, even as the U.N. was touting the Taliban’s promise of good behavior and pouring a billion dollars into Afghanistan, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet highlighted the gulf between the soothing words of the regime and its brutal actions.

“My office has received credible allegations of reprisal killings of a number of former ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) personnel, and reports of officials, who worked for previous administrations and their family members being arbitrarily detained. In some cases, the officials were released, and in others, they were found dead,” Bachelet said.

“In contradiction to assurances that the Taliban would uphold women’s rights, over the past three weeks women have instead been progressively excluded from the public sphere,” she continued, adding that her office is investigating reports of the Taliban preventing girls from attending school.

USAID announced a $64 million pledge of U.S. taxpayer money for Afghanistan on Monday, promising the money will “flow through independent organizations, such as U.N. agencies and NGOs, and provide live-saving support directly to Afghans facing the compounding effects of insecurity, conflict, recurring natural disasters, and the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“For assistance to be effective, we will need an environment conducive to the principled delivery of aid, including the ability for both female and male aid workers to operate freely,” the agency stipulated, without indicating how it would secure such an environment.

USAID said its funds would be employed to “provide vulnerable Afghans with critically needed food, health care, nutrition, medical supplies, protection, hygiene supplies, and other urgently needed relief.”


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