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US pledges additional $144m aid for Afghanistan

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KABUL: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced nearly $144 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan on Thursday.

“As part of our enduring commitment to the people of Afghanistan, the United States announced today nearly $144 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis,” Blinken said in a statement.

“This assistance brings the total U.S. humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $474 million in 2021, the largest amount of assistance from any nation,” he added.

Blinken noted that the assistance is provided directly to independent humanitarian organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other international and non-governmental organizations.

“This funding provides support directly to some of the more than 18 million vulnerable Afghans in need in the region, including Afghan refugees in neighboring countries,” he said.

The additional humanitarian assistance “will enable our partners to provide lifesaving protection, food security support, essential health care, winterization assistance, logistics, and emergency food aid in response to the growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by healthcare shortages, COVID-19, drought, malnutrition, and the impending winter,” he said.

Blinken added that the funding will “benefit the people of Afghanistan and not the Taliban, whom we will continue to hold accountable for the commitments they have made.”

He called on host countries “to keep their borders open to Afghans seeking international protection.”

The announcement of humanitarian assistance came after the US completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan amid a Taliban offensive that led to the government’s ouster. The hectic exit saw the US ferry over 120,000 people out of Afghanistan as the Taliban laid claim to the capital, Kabul.

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