UN warns Afghanistan at risk of ‘total breakdown’

Sept 10, 2021: The United Nations (UN) has warned that Afghanistan is in danger of a “complete breakdown” if the international community refuses to work with the Taliban finding to assist money flow into Afghanistan despite the government’s concerns.

Afghanistan’s central bank’s assets of about $10 billion are currently frozen abroad, and is being used as leverage to judge the new administration.

But Deborah Lyons, the UN special envoy to Afghanistan, told the Security Council on Thursday that a way to bring money to the country needed to be found to “prevent a complete collapse of the economy and social system.”

The country is witnessing currency depreciation, sharp rise in food and fuel prices and shortage of cash in private banks. Authorities also do not have the funds to pay salaries, the UN envoy said.

“The economy should be allowed to breathe for a few more months, which will give the Taliban a chance to show flexibility and then have a real desire to do things differently, especially humanely,”

The UN envoy said security measures could be put in place to ensure that funds were not misused.

US-led foreign donors provided more than 75 percent of public spending for the Afghan government, which was destroyed 20 years after the United States withdrew its troops. President Joe Biden’s administration has said it is ready to provide humanitarian aid, but says unlocking any direct economic lifeline, including central bank assets, will depend on the Taliban’s actions which includes permission for people to exit safely.

The first civilian flight from Kabul arrived in Qatar on Thursday with more than 100 passengers on board. The International Monetary Fund has blocked the Taliban from accessing $440 million in new emergency reserves.

Russia and China, which have offered millions in emergency aid to the country, have both argued for the release of Afghanistan’s frozen assets. Gang Shuang, China’s deputy ambassador, said the assets belonged to Afghanistan and should be used for Afghanistan, not for threats.

Lyon’s warning came shortly after a clear report from the United Nations Development Program UNDP warned that the country could face global poverty because of the economic deal. The UNDP says the country is already one of the world’s poorest, with 72% of people living on less than a dollar a day.

Ghulam Ishaqzai, the UN ambassador to Afghanistan, who was appointed by a US-backed government that fell after the Taliban’s advance, urged the Security Council to “recognize any government in Afghanistan.”

The United Nations is planning a pledge conference on humanitarian aid on Monday, without the presence of the Taliban government, which no country has recognized as yet.

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