G20 leaders and ministers have agreed that they will have no choice but to involve the Taliban in sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, but say this falls short of political recognition of the Taliban as a government.
The consensus view came at a video conference on the Afghan crisis in which the EU increased its aid to a total of € 1 billion (£ 850 million) and it was agreed in principle that the IMF and the World Bank could provide aid. . The United States has frozen about $ 9 billion of Afghan assets in foreign banks.
Aid agencies like the International Rescue Committee say Afghanistan is on the brink of “humanitarian collapse” as it has relied 75% on foreign aid to survive, and support has dried up since the Taliban took power in August.
Mario Draghi, Italian prime minister and current rotating G20 president, said there was consensus at the meeting to act through the UN and its agencies. “Addressing the humanitarian crisis will require contacts with the Taliban, but this does not mean their recognition. We must recognize that they will be judged by what they do, not by what they say.
He added: “It is very difficult to see how you can help people in Afghanistan without involving the Taliban.”
Draghi said that the lives of women dates back 20 years and added that “right now” there is no visible progress in human rights, women’s rights, education or inclusive government, the issues of which she said it would depend on future recognition from other countries.
Overall, his comments suggested a compromise between those who want to use recognition and access to aid as a lever to moderate the Taliban, and those who say that the collective punishment of the Afghan people by withholding aid is now not an option.
The meeting was the first time that the world’s richest countries met to discuss the consequences of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
But neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping joined the call and sent their foreign ministers. Boris Johnson also did not participate as he was on vacation.
Reflecting diplomatic tensions, Russia has hosted a rival conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on October 20, to which Pakistan, India and Iran, as well as the Taliban, have been invited.
The European Union started the proceedings by announcing an additional € 700 million in emergency aid for Afghanistan and neighboring countries. The pledge brings the total commitment of new funds to 1 billion euros, after the EU executive’s pledge of 300 million euros to help prevent basic services in Afghanistan from collapsing and food running out.
UN Secretary General António Guterres said the country was at a turning point. He told reporters in New York: “By respecting international laws and principles, we have to find ways to inject liquidity into the economy so that the economy does not collapse. If we do not act and help the Afghans weather this storm, and we do it soon, not only they, but everyone, will pay a heavy price. “
He said the cash could be injected through UN trust funds and other instruments. “I am particularly alarmed to see that the promises made to Afghan women and girls by the Taliban are not being kept,” he added.
He added that the UN until September had committed province by province with the Taliban to ensure that female UN personnel could work unhindered in humanitarian aid.
Also in attendance were the World Bank and the IMF, both with funds that could help with reconstruction. Qatar, which has played a vital role as a hub for refugees fleeing the country, has been invited and discussions about the opening of Kabul airport are likely to take place.
In the run-up to the summit and speaking in Doha, the Afghan Foreign Minister called on the world for good relations, but avoided making firm commitments on girls’ education, despite international demands to allow all Afghan boys go back to school.
“The international community must begin to cooperate with us,” said Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi at an event organized by the Center for Humanitarian and Conflict Studies of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.
“With this we can stop insecurity and at the same time with this we can positively engage with the world,” he said.
Muttaqi, who called on the world to release $ 9 billion of frozen Afghan assets abroad, said: “The Daesh issue has been controlled very well by the Islamic emirate so far,” he said, adding that international pressure on it government was helping the morale of the Islamic State. . “Instead of lobbying, the world should cooperate with us.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism