Afghanistan: fear of a humanitarian disaster, the UN calls for dialogue with the Taliban

The international community must discuss with the Taliban to avoid a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, the UN chief said on Monday, as a first commercial flight landed in Kabul on Monday, one of the first signs of normalization of the country. country since the return of the Islamists to power.

The situation is becoming critical for millions of Afghans, already affected by an acute drought, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and decades of war. According to the UN, in the absence of support, almost the entire Afghan population (97%) is at risk of falling below the poverty line next year, compared to 72% today.

“If we want to advance human rights for the Afghan people, the best way is to move forward with humanitarian aid, to engage with the Taliban and to take advantage of this humanitarian aid to push for the implementation of these rights, ”said Antonio Guterres.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting in Geneva at which the UN requested more than $ 600 million in aid for humanitarian organizations in that country. Paris has announced that it will release 100 million euros in this context, when Washington will contribute 64 million euros.

The UN said at the end of the meeting that donor states had pledged a total of $ 1.2 billion in aid, but without specifying how much was specifically intended for the emergency appeal.

“And we are of course very concerned to ensure that humanitarian aid serves as a lever to obtain a real engagement of the Taliban in all the other aspects which concern the international community,” continued Mr. Guterres, again citing “terrorism”. , “Drugs”, or “the nature of government”. “

The Taliban took Kabul in mid-August without a fight, due to the collapse of the Afghan state, which has been supported for two decades by the international community.

But since their return to power, after a first reign of five years (1996-2001) marked by terror and brutality, Afghanistan has been partially at a standstill, in particular due to the interruption of financial flows with the stranger who infused an economy stricken by 40 years of war.

The international community must find mechanisms “to ensure that we do not let the Afghan economy collapse,” Guterres called, when many countries refuse to provide aid directly to the new regime in an attempt to make it bend. The collapse of the country would have “devastating consequences” and “could trigger a mass exodus”, he further warned.

“Hope day”

These statements came as a first commercial flight from the Pakistani company PIA landed Monday morning at Kabul airport, controlled for two weeks by the Taliban and gradually rehabilitated, with the help of Qatar in particular, after the the hasty and high tension departure of the American forces on August 30.

The Islamists’ ability to revive international traffic in Kabul will be a test for their regime, which after announcing its government, consolidates its hold on the country.

The Americans and their allies had left Afghanistan after 20 years of fruitless war against the Taliban, organizing in the last weeks a gigantic airlift which evacuated 123,000 people.

“The evacuation was an extraordinary effort, under the most difficult conditions imaginable,” the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken was to affirm on Monday, before a Congress very critical of the terms of the withdrawal.

“Even the most pessimistic analyzes did not foresee the collapse of the government forces in Kabul before the withdrawal of the American forces”, he still had to affirm, according to a speech distributed in advance to the media.

The Pakistani plane, which had carried only a few passengers to Kabul, left for Islamabad with nearly 70 people on board, the vast majority of them Afghans.

“I am evacuated, I am going to Tajikistan” after Islamabad, a World Bank employee told AFP in the queue in Kabul. She plans to return to Afghanistan, but “once men and women can once again work and move freely”.

The Taliban announced their government last week, marked by the presence of many caciques of their fundamentalist regime of the 90s. They pledged to govern in a less brutal and rigorous way than during their first reign between 1996 and 2001, when the women could not work or study.

But they also violently repressed, then banned, demonstrations organized in several large cities of the country, in which many women participated, demanding in particular to be able to continue working to feed their families.

In Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said she was “disappointed” at the Taliban government’s lack of diversity, and worried about the treatment of women and the further repression. in addition to violent dissenting voices.

The Afghan interim government “is certainly not the inclusive government” that the international community and Tehran expect, for its part criticized the Iranian foreign ministry.

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