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New Delhi: With the growing instability in Afghanistan’s economy after the Taliban takeover, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the international community to find ways and inject cash directly into the economy to avert its total collapse as the humanitarian crisis affected its population badly.
While speaking to reporters at UN headquarters on Monday, Guterres criticized the Taliban for breaking promises they made after seizing power in August to uphold the rights of women and girls, including allowing girls to attend school according to news agency Reuters.
“Broken promises lead to broken dreams for the women and girls of Afghanistan,” Guterres said, asserting there “is no way” to heal the economy if the Taliban continue barring women from working. His views pointed out the detrimental situation in the country and the need to ease the economic and humanitarian crises that have grown since the Taliban took power after the withdrawal of the US forces.
The takeover of Islamists gave way to billions in central bank assets being frozen and international financial institutions suspending access to funds even as the humanitarian aid continued.
Banks are running out of money, civil servants have not been paid and food prices have soared, according to Reuters “The crisis is affecting at least 18 million people – half the country’s population,” said Guterres, adding that a massive UN humanitarian aid operation is underway in a “race against time” as winter approaches.
Guterres also noted that the Afghan economy managed to stay afloat by foreign aid for almost two decades has been severely affected by drought and Covid-19 before the Taliban seized power. “I urge the world to take action and inject liquidity into the Afghan economy to avoid collapse,” he said, explaining that any measures should avoid channeling cash through the Taliban.
He insisted that such measures should be taken independent of diplomatic decisions to recognize the Islamists’ government.
While suggesting ways to inject liquidity into the economy, he said, is for UN agencies and humanitarian groups to offer cash payments directly to people, and that the World Bank could create a special trust fund from which money could be drawn.
But, he said, “The main responsibility for finding a way back from the abyss lies” with the Taliban. The group not only promised to uphold the rights of women and girls, but those of minorities and former government employees, Guterres said. “This is a make or break moment,” he said, warning that without action, the world will “pay a heavy price” as increasing numbers of Afghans flee their country “in search of a better life.”
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