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U.N. paves way for more aid to reach Afghan people

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KABUL: The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday clearing the way for aid to reach Afghans in desperate need of basic support, while preventing funds from falling into the hands of the Taliban, a move welcomed by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator as a “milestone” decision that will save lives.

Martin Griffiths, who is also Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, described the resolution as “evidence of how seriously Member States take the shocking levels of need and suffering in the country.”

Significantly, it requested the Emergency Relief Coordinator to brief its members every six months and agreed to review implementation of the resolution in a year’s time.

“This humanitarian exception will allow organizations to implement the work we have planned,” Mr. Griffiths stressed, and “give legal assurances to the financial institutions and commercial actors we rely on to engage with humanitarian operators.”

The adoption follows months of discussions in the Council and broader international community about how to stave off economic collapse in Afghanistan following the country’s takeover by the Taliban, considered de-facto authorities, in August and subsequent freezing by Western countries of billions of dollars used by the previous Government to ensure the provision of basic services.

According to Mr. Griffiths, humanitarian operations in Afghanistan are set to be the largest anywhere in the world in 2022, reaching some 22 million people.

Some 160 national and international organizations are providing critical food and health assistance, as well as education, water and sanitation, and support to agriculture. “We urgently need to ramp up this work,” he stressed.

He said the impact of lifesaving UN aid depends on cooperation by the de facto authorities and on the flexibility of the funding received.  “We must all do everything we can to preserve the life, dignity and future of all Afghans.”

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