G20 agrees aid to avert Afghanistan humanitarian crisis

Oct 13, 2021: The Taliban held their first face-to-face talks with a joint US-EU delegation Tuesday in Qatar, as Brussels pledged one billion euros $1.2 billion in aid for Afghanistan.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said after hosting an emergency summit that the G20 had agreed to work together to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan, even if it meant working with the Taliban.

The European Union aid which will go to the immediate humanitarian needs and help neighboring countries that are taking in Afghans.

At the Doha meeting and a conference of the world’s major economies, the G20, the message for the Taliban was the same: the world is committed to humanitarian aid for Afghanistan’s suffering people, and the country must not become a base for militants.

The country’s assets held abroad have been frozen, while food prices and unemployment are rising, prompting warnings of a humanitarian disaster once winter arrives.

US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several European leaders attended the virtual summit, which took place when the Taliban held face-to-face talks for the first time with a US and EU delegation in Qatar.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin sent delegates instead of attending. Draghi said the absence of the two leaders did not diminish the significance of the meeting being hosted by Italy, the current G20 chair.

Draghi said this was the first multilateral response to the Afghan crisis.

There was unanimous agreement among the participants about the need to alleviate the crisis in Afghanistan, where the country’s assets overseas have been frozen, banks have run out of money, civil servants have not been paid, and food prices have soared. Millions are at risk of severe hunger as winter approaches.

The EU emphasised its money would go to international organisations working on the ground rather than the Taliban, which has not been recognised by any other government.

Much of the G20 aid effort will be channelled through the United Nations, but there will also be direct country-to-country assistance.

Draghi stressed that coordinating with the Taliban did not mean recognising their administration and that the Taliban would be judged by their deeds, not their words.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the G20 leaders called on the Taliban to deal with extremist groups operating outside the country. IT=t added that future humanitarian programs should focus on women and girls and give safe passage to Afghans who want to leave the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the summit in a televised address that the Taliban had not yet “delivered as expected”.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was looking at “pragmatic, practical engagement”, rather than recognition.

Ahead of the meeting, China called for the lifting of economic sanctions on Afghanistan and the freezing of billions of dollars in Afghan international assets and the return of them to Kabul. The United States and the United Kingdom, which have a lot of assets, are resisting the move, and the final statement made no mention of the issue.

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