The United Nations is holding an assistance conference in Geneva today (Monday) in the hopes of raising more than $600 million for Afghanistan, warning of a humanitarian disaster in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover.
Even before the Taliban took control of Kabul last month, half of the country’s population, or 18 million people, was reliant on help. According to UN authorities and aid organizations, this amount is expected to rise due to drought and financial and food shortages.
Following the collapse of Afghanistan’s Western-backed government and the Taliban’s subsequent victory, billions of dollars in international donations came to an abrupt halt, putting even more strain on UN programmers.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has admitted that his organization is having budgetary difficulties: “At the moment, the United Nations is unable to pay its own employees’ salaries,” he told reporters on Friday.
Top UN officials, including Guterres, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, and hundreds of government leaders, including German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, will attend the Geneva summit, which is set to begin today.
The UN World Food Program (WFP), which reported that 93% of the 1,600 Afghans it surveyed in August and September were not eating enough food, largely because they couldn’t get cash to pay for it, would utilize around a third of the $606 million needed.
“It’s now a race against time and the elements to provide life-saving relief to the Afghans who need it the most,” WFP deputy regional director Anthea Webb said. “We’re literally begging and borrowing to keep our food supplies from running out.”
Another UN body involved in the plea, the World Health Organization, is working to save hundreds of health facilities that are on the verge of closing due to a lack of funding.