UK to co-host UN summit in bid to raise £3bn-plus for Afghanistan aid

The Foreign Secretary said it was a ‘critical moment’ for the international community to show support for the Taliban-held country.

Millions of people in Afghanistan face starvation without urgent support, the UN has warned (Hussein Malla/AP)
Millions of people in Afghanistan face starvation without urgent support, the UN has warned (Hussein Malla/AP)

The UK is to co-host a United Nations summit aimed at raising more than £3 billion to help fund humanitarian relief and put a stop to the “misery” in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned that a failure to step in and help the Afghan people would be “devastating” with millions at risk of hunger following the Taliban takeover of Kabul in the summer.

The UK withdrew its diplomats from the capital last year amid a chaotic Western withdrawal from the central Asian country, but senior British diplomats – including Nick Dyer, the UK’s special envoy for famine prevention – returned to Afghanistan for talks on Thursday.

The scale of need is unparalleled, and consequences of inaction will be devastating

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss

Following the visit, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced on Tuesday that it will co-host a virtual pledging summit next month to support humanitarian efforts to abate the crisis.

The UN’s World Food Programme has warned that 8.7 million people in Afghanistan are at risk of starvation, while the FCDO said half of the country’s population faces acute hunger.

The UN is seeking to raise 4.4 billion dollars to help more than 24.4 million Afghans needing urgent aid to survive, with the UK committing £286 million to support Afghans in the last year.

Funding is set to be channelled through trusted UN agencies and charities on the ground, with the Taliban regime that swept to power in August not recognised by the UK Government.

Ms Truss said: “The conference is a critical moment for the international community to step up support in an effort to stop the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (Rob Pinney/PA)

“The scale of need is unparalleled, and consequences of inaction will be devastating.

“The UK is determined to lead the global effort. We will bring international allies together to raise vital aid to deliver food, shelter and health services, protect women and girls and support stability in the region.”

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator, said: “We are very grateful to the UK for co-hosting this important event to mobilise international support for the humanitarian needs of Afghanistan.

“We welcome donors from around the globe to join together to save the lives and futures of Afghans.

“Every day of delay means more misery for the Afghan people. They need a lifeline.”

Pledges made at the summit will go towards the UN’s biggest-ever appeal for a single country, which was launched last month.

The other co-hosts of the summit will be announced in due course, the FCDO said.

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