UN warns of potential humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan

United Nations, Sep 9 (EFE).- Citing the threat of a humanitarian catastrophe, an United Nations official made an appeal Thursday to the international community to unblock aid to Afghanistan that was frozen when the Taliban returned to power nearly 20 years after being ousted by the United States.

“Billions of assets and donor funds have been frozen,” Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said in a briefing for the Security Council.

“The understandable purpose is to deny these funds to the de facto Taliban administration. Inevitable effect, however, will be a severe economic downturn that could throw many more millions into poverty and hunger, may generate a massive wave of refugees from Afghanistan, and indeed set Afghanistan back for generations,” she said.

The Canadian diplomat said that the international community must allow the Afghan economy “to breathe” while “giving the Taliban a chance to demonstrate flexibility and a genuine will to do things differently this time.”

The earlier period of Taliban rule, from 1996-2001, was marked by repression of women and minorities and pervasive brutality.

Noting the inclusion of several members of the provisional administration named this week by the Taliban on the UN sanctions list, Lyons said “the pre-existing humanitarian crisis … cannot wait for political decisions regarding the removal of sanctions.”

Afghans, particularly in rural areas, were already struggling before the fall of the US-backed government and the situation has grown more desperate amid a plunge in the value of the currency and a shortage of cash, she said.

“A modus vivendi must be found, and quickly, that allows money to flow to Afghanistan to prevent a total breakdown of the economy and social order. Safeguards must be created to ensure that this money is spent where it needs to be spent, and not misused by the de facto authorities,” Lyons told the Security Council. EFE mvs/dr

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