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The Taliban thanks US for $64m as part of $1.2BILLION international aid package but pleads for more

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The Taliban thanked the world for pledging more than a billion dollars in emergency aid to Afghanistan, and urged the US to show “heart” by donating more.

Amir Khan Muttaqi, the regime’s acting foreign minister, told a news conference that the terror group would spend the donor money wisely and use it to alleviate poverty.

He spoke a day after the United Nations said a total of $1.2 billion in aid had been pledged to Afghanistan, of which $64 million came from the US.

Amir Khan Muttaqi (pictured), the regime’s acting foreign minister, told a news conference that the terror group would spend the donor money wisely and use it to alleviate poverty.

“The Islamic Emirate will do its best to provide this aid to the needy people in a completely transparent manner,” Muttaqi said.

He also asked Washington to show appreciation for the Taliban who last month allowed the US to withdraw its troops and evacuate more than 120,000 people.

“America is a big country, they must have a big heart,” he said.

Muttaqi said Afghanistan, which is also struggling with drought, has already received aid from countries such as Pakistan, Qatar and Uzbekistan, but gave no further details.

He said he had held talks with the Chinese ambassador about the coronavirus vaccine and other humanitarian causes.

Beijing last week pledged $31 million worth of food and health supplies and said Friday it would send an initial batch of 3 million coronavirus vaccines.

Pakistan sent food and medicine and called for the release of Afghan assets frozen abroad. Iran said it had sent an air cargo with assistance.

‘Mistakes of the past should not be repeated. The Afghan people must not be abandoned,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose country has close ties to the Taliban and is likely to suffer the brunt of a refugee exodus.

The Taliban asked Washington to show appreciation for the Taliban who allowed the US to withdraw its troops

The Taliban asked Washington to show appreciation for the Taliban who allowed the US to withdraw its troops

Both China and Russia said the main burden of helping Afghanistan out of the crisis should rest on Western countries.

“The US and its allies have a greater obligation to provide economic, humanitarian and livelihoods,” said Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

The United States pledged $64 million in new humanitarian aid at the conference, while Norway pledged an additional $11.5 million.

Since the Taliban takeover, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have cut Afghanistan’s access to financing, while the United States has also frozen the cash in its reserve for Kabul.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Monday he believes aid could be used as leverage for Islamist hardliners to enforce improvements in human rights, fearing a return to the brutal rule that characterized the first Taliban. regime from 1996 to 2001.

“It is impossible to provide humanitarian aid in Afghanistan without contacting the de facto authorities,” the UN Secretary-General told ministers attending the Geneva talks.

“It is very important at this time to engage in talks with the Taliban.”

Since the Taliban takeover, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have cut off Afghanistan's access to finance

Since the Taliban takeover, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have cut off Afghanistan’s access to finance

The Taliban have promised a lenient form of rule this time around, but have acted swiftly to quell dissent, including firing into the air to disperse recent protests by women calling for the right to education and work.

UN chief of rights Michelle Bachelet said she was “stunned by the lack of inclusiveness of the so-called concierge cabinet, which contains no women and few non-Pashtuns.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously warned that the Taliban should earn legitimacy and support, after talks with allies on how to present a united front.

The interim cabinet, he said, would be judged “on its actions.”

Meanwhile, Afghans are resorting to selling their household items to raise money to pay for basic necessities, and bustling second-hand goods markets have mushroomed in most urban centers.

Ajmal Ahmady, former acting governor of the Afghan central bank, tweeted last week that the country no longer had access to about $9 billion in aid, loans and assets.

Even before the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul last month, half of the population – or 18 million people – depended on aid. This seems to be increasing due to drought and shortages.

About $200 million of the new money will go to the UN’s World Food Programme, which found that 93 percent of the 1,600 Afghans it surveyed in August and September were not getting enough to eat.

WFP director David Beasley said 40 percent of Afghanistan’s wheat crop had been lost, the price of cooking oil had doubled and most people had no way of making money anyway.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously warned that the Taliban should earn legitimacy and support

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously warned that the Taliban should earn legitimacy and support

As banks reopen, the queues for withdrawals are extremely long, and most importantly, since July, no one who has depended on the government for a salary – from civil servants to police – has been paid.

“Fourteen million people, one in three, are marching to the brink of starvation. They don’t know where their next meal is,’ Beasley said.

“If we’re not very careful, we could really, really enter the abyss in catastrophic conditions worse than what we’re seeing now.”

The UN World Health Organization, which is also part of the call, wants to strengthen hundreds of health facilities that are at risk of closure after donors withdraw.

Antonio Vitorino, head of the International Organization for Migration, said the Afghan medical system is “on the brink of collapse,” and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the gains made in polio eradication and vaccination against Covid-19 could unravel.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned there could be “very soon” a much greater displacement than the estimated half a million who have already taken refuge elsewhere in Afghanistan this year.

“The physical distance between our nations and Afghanistan should not mislead us,” added Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“A humanitarian and security crisis in Afghanistan will have immediate repercussions around the world. We must now take collective action.’

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001 according to their strict interpretation of Islamic law and were overthrown in a United States-led invasion, which accused them of harboring militants behind the September 11 attacks.

They returned to power in a meteoric rise last month as the last US-led NATO troops withdrew and the troops of the Western-backed government melted away.

With billions of dollars in aid flows coming to an abrupt end due to Western antipathy and mistrust of the Taliban, donors had a “moral duty” to continue helping Afghans after a 20-year commitment, several speakers in Geneva said.

But UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, also in Geneva, underlined Western doubts.

She accused the Taliban of breaking recent promises by once again ordering women to stay at home instead of going to work, keeping teenage girls out of school and persecuting former opponents.

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