Thursday, October 21

Desperately trying to get help in Afghanistan. The new conversations give some hope.


Afghanistan has run out of money. Soon you will be able to get money for emergency aid, believes the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland.

A record number of malnourished children have been admitted to this Kandahar hospital.

Taliban-led Afghanistan is threatened with collapse. Hospitals are full of malnourished children.

Aid organizations that are willing to help do not receive money from Afghan banks. Tens of billions of kronor left abroad by Afghanistan have been frozen.

However, talks between the Taliban and the United States in Doha last weekend give hope for a quick solution.

– I hope and believe that there may be an agreement between the Americans and the Taliban, says Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Egeland was in Afghanistan in late September, met with two of the top Taliban leaders, and saw a country on the brink of collapse. Hundreds of thousands of government employees, such as doctors, nurses and teachers, have not been paid since May.

– Waiting for good news

The NRC has money in Afghan banks, but since the Taliban took power in mid-August, it has not been possible to withdraw more than small amounts. They have spent over NOK 40 million on emergency aid that is now imported from Pakistan. But to avoid collapse, you have to get the banking system going and pay public employees in hospitals and schools.

It requires an agreement between the two main players, namely the Taliban and the US government. It’s not very easy. Both because the Taliban took power by force and because they appear to continue to discriminate against women and minorities.

The Taliban are breaking promises they made to Afghan women and girls, whose dreams have been shattered, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned Monday in a statement.

Jan Egeland visited Kabul in late September. There he met, among others, the shoemaker Abdul Bari, an internally displaced person from Helmand province.

Despite this, there is a will to help the Afghan people.

– I look forward to good news from the meeting between the Taliban and the Americans, says Egeland after speaking with senior officials from various countries.

According to Egeland, the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has confirmed that although they are dissatisfied with the Taliban, they are working to find solutions because now it is a matter of life and death.

– If in the course of a week we have the opportunity to initiate financial transfers, then we can do a lot in the next few weeks. We must get money to Afghanistan this week, says Egeland.

New encounters between the Taliban, the EU and the United States

A delegation from the EU and the United States met face-to-face with representatives of the Taliban on Tuesday, reports AFP. Access by humanitarian aid organizations was among those on the agenda.

What is being discussed internationally are solutions to channel money into Afghanistan. Not only for pure humanitarian aid, but also for the continuation of essential public services, in the first instance health and eventually education, says a source.

The Afghanistan Committee has many aid operations in Afghanistan. They are confident that the United States is ready to resume humanitarian aid.

– We hope this will be opened up for the EU and other donors to follow in order to cease obstacles to effective relief work, writes Secretary General Liv Kjølseth in an email to Aftenposten.

She believes that the United States, the IMF and the World Bank must ensure that humanitarian aid is channeled through already established structures.

– This is important to avoid further destabilization of the country, as we cannot see that there is now a management alternative to the Taliban, Kjølseth writes.

Norway has been active

Norwegian assistance to the Afghan authorities has stopped. But the NOK 100 million priority has been shifted from long-term assistance to humanitarian efforts.

– Like other Western donors, Norway is considering continuing efforts that are crucial for the Afghan population, including health and education, says outgoing Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H).

Kandahar’s Mirwais Hospital has received many more malnourished children in recent weeks than before.

It affirms that in that case this will happen through non-governmental and multilateral organizations and will not be direct support or recognition of the current regime.

Norwegian diplomats along with other representatives of the international community met with the Taliban in Doha ahead of the weekend. They have also held other meetings with representatives of the Taliban since they took power in August.

– These are contacts that have been built over time, especially in Doha, says the outgoing Norwegian Chancellor.


www.aftenposten.no

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