Humanitarian aid cannot be used to repair Afghan economy: UN

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – AUGUST 15: The Taliban take to the streets during a national holiday celebrating the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 15, 2022. The Taliban recapture Kabul A year later, after 20 years of insurgency, it has consolidated control of Afghanistan, but the country is plagued by economic and humanitarian crises. Western governments freeze billions of dollars in Afghan assets and tell Taliban to honor unfulfilled promises on security, governance and human rights, including access to education for all girls pressure to do so. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Paula Bronstein. | | Getty Images News | Getty Images

According to the United Nations, humanitarian aid to Afghanistan is not enough to sustain the economy and more investment is needed to support the country’s development.

“Humanitarian aid cannot be used to repair a completely collapsed economy,” said Khanni Wignaraja, Assistant Secretary-General for Asia and the Pacific at the United Nations Development Programme.

The Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital Kabul last August after the withdrawal of US troops from the country after nearly two decades of war.

Wignaraja said a “massive humanitarian operation” late last year was “extremely necessary to save lives” after the Taliban overthrew the Afghan government.

But she said it would be a mistake to stop investing in rebuilding and developing the country.

A lack of investment from the private sector and development agencies is exacerbating the country’s humanitarian crisis and hard-hit economy, Wignaraja added.

She said investments were needed to revive Afghanistan’s economy and domestic market.

“A large part of the UN and UNDP efforts [to] Afghans feed Afghans, so revitalize your local business sector and make it work. They will produce their own food,” she said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

Other groups, such as the Red Cross, have also said that humanitarian action alone will not be enough to pull Afghanistan out of its economic rut.

“Humanitarian organizations alone cannot replace public institutions in a country of 40 million people,” Robert Maldini, secretary-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, told Reuters.

“Therefore, we urge the state and development agencies to return to Afghanistan to help Afghans who continue to bear the brunt of the economic turmoil.”

Countries and development agencies are reluctant to fund Afghanistan unless the Taliban keep “part of the deal”, Wignaraja said, allowing girls to finish high school and creating jobs for women in the workplace. and hopes for a more inclusive government.

Afghanistan is ‘the only country in the world’ where girls can’t finish high school,” she said.

“Women’s dignity and rights” were taken away when their right to work was taken away, costing the Afghan economy an estimated billion dollars, she added.

The 20-year civil war has claimed more than 6,000 American lives, killed more than 100,000 Afghans, and cost the US more than $2 trillion in Afghanistan.

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