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Afghanistan faces ‘make-or-break moment’- UN Chief

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Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also appealed to the Taliban to stop breaking its promises to allow women to work and girls to have access to all levels of education.

Eighty percent of Afghanistan’s economy is informal, with women playing an overwhelming role, and “without them there is no way the Afghan economy and society will recover,” he said.

He said the U.N. is urgently appealing to countries to inject cash into the Afghan economy, which before the Taliban takeover in August was dependent on international aid that accounted for 75% of state spending. The country is grappling with a liquidity crisis as assets remain frozen in the U.S. and other countries, and disbursements from international organizations have been put on hold.

“Right now, with assets frozen and development aid paused, the economy is breaking down,” Guterres told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York. “Banks are closing and essential services, such as health care, have been suspended in many places.”

Guterres pointed to promises by the Taliban since the takeover to protect the rights of women, children, minority communities and former Government employees — especially the possibility of women working and girls being able to get the same education as boys.

“I am particularly alarmed to see promises made to Afghan women and girls by the Taliban being broken,” he said, stressing that “their ability to learn, work, own assets, and to live with rights and dignity will define progress.”

However, Guterres said “the Afghan people cannot suffer a collective punishment because the Taliban misbehave.”

He said the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is growing, affecting at least 18 million people, or half the country’s population.

Meanwhile, With Afghanistan cut off from most of its foreign support and plunging into an economic and humanitarian crisis, the European Union pledged a major $1.15 billion aid package during a virtual Group of 20 summit, calling it a step to avoid “catastrophe.”

But for all of Europe’s urgency — part of it driven by anxiety about spillover migration — other nations, representing the largest economies, did not step forward with comparable measures. The summit — in which President Biden participated, but Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not — ended with a general agreement about the importance of providing a lifeline to Afghanistan’s people as conditions worsen.

“We must do all we can to avert a major humanitarian and socioeconomic collapse in Afghanistan,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.


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