Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the international community to accord urgent priority to addressing the humanitarian needs and ensuring economic stability in Afghanistan, as the United Nations warned of a “looming humanitarian catastrophe” in the war-torn country.
Premier Imran spoke by the telephone with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and the two leaders discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan with a particular focus on the humanitarian situation, a handout issued by the Prime Minister Office said.
The telephone call came after a spokesperson at the UN headquarters announced that Secretary General Guterres would travel to Geneva to convene a high-level conference on aid for Afghanistan on September 13.
During the telephone talks, PM Imran appreciated the UN’s vital role in delivering the much-needed humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and assured Guterres of Pakistan’s continued cooperation in this regard.
The prime minister underscored the need for the international community to become more engaged with Afghanistan, accord urgent priority to addressing the humanitarian needs and ensure economic stability in the country.
“Such steps will not only reinforce security but also preclude any mass exodus of Afghans from their country, thus preventing a refugee crisis in Afghanistan,” he said. He also highlighted Pakistan’s assistance provided to the UN in the evacuation and relocation of its staff from Afghanistan.
The prime minister highlighted the importance of peace, stability and an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan, stressing that the opportunity to finally put an end to 40 years of conflict in Afghanistan must be seized by enabling the Afghans to achieve lasting peace, security and prosperity.
At the UN headquarters, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the secretary general, told reporters that Guterres had thanked Pakistan and seven other countries for their support of continuing the UN operations in Afghanistan.
Dujarric also announced that Guterres would travel to Geneva to convene a high-level conference on aid for Afghanistan on September 13. He warned that the country now under the control of the Taliban after 20 years of war was facing a “looming humanitarian catastrophe”.
“The secretary general is indeed very grateful for the generosity of member states, Pakistan, Denmark, Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, Poland, Qatar, the UAE and the US, who have made available facilities and arrangements in support of continuing UN operations in Afghanistan,” he said.
“With their offers and commitments, they have made a great contribution to the safety and security, operational delivery, and overall continuity of the UN activities,” Dujarric told reporters. He added that at present, one-third of the population of Afghanistan was acutely food insecure.
“One in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from. Nearly half of all children under the age of five are predicted to be acutely malnourished in the next 12 months,” the spokesperson added.
Afghanistan’s 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan required $1.3 billion to help more than 18 million people, but the efforts are 40% funded, leaving a deficit of $766 million. Dujarric said that the Geneva “conference will advocate for a swift scale-up in funding”.
The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, said on Friday that it was seeing no large influx of refugees trying to access the borders to Pakistan and Iran, but a displacement crisis was, in fact, taking place inside Afghanistan.
“Along with our humanitarian partners, we have been working to respond to the impacts of low rainfall on water availability, crop yields, agricultural labour opportunities, as well as affordability of food since the beginning of the year,” Dujarric said.
(WITH INPUT FROM AGENCIES)
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