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The G20 promises aid to the Afghan humanitarian crisis at a special summit




Ever since the Taliban invaded Afghanistan on August 15, the country – which is already battling drought and severe poverty after decades of war – has seen its economy collapse, raising the specter of an exodus of refugees.

“There has basically been a convergence of views on the need to address the humanitarian emergency,” Draghi told reporters at the end of a video conference.

US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many European leaders attended, but Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not call, suggesting different international positions on the emergency.

Draghi said the absence of the last two leaders did not underestimate the importance of the meeting hosted by Italy, the current G20 chairman.

“This was the first multilateral response to the Afghan crisis … multilateralism is coming back, with difficulty, but it is coming back,” Draghi said.

There was unanimous agreement among participants about the need to ease the crisis in Afghanistan, where banks are running out of money, civil servants have not been paid and food prices have risen, leaving millions at risk of severe famine.

'Basic things just aren't there': Health care collapse in Afghanistan threatens millions' lives as winter approaches
Most aid efforts will be channeled through the United Nations, but there will also be direct assistance from country to country, despite refusal by most states to formally recognize the harsh Taliban government.

“It’s really hard to understand how you can help people in Afghanistan without involving the Taliban … but that does not mean getting to know them,” Draghi said.

He said the Taliban would be judged by their deeds, not by their words, and the world was particularly concerned about the plight of women in the impoverished nation.

“At this time we see no progress,” Draghi said.

The White House said leaders had discussed “the critical need to maintain a laser focus on our sustained counterterrorism efforts, including against ISIS-K threats.”

In a joint statement after the meeting, G20 leaders called on the Taliban to fight militant groups operating abroad. They said future humanitarian programs should focus on women and girls and that safe passage should be given to those Afghans who want to leave the country.

Ahead of the meeting, China demanded that economic sanctions on Afghanistan be lifted and that billions of dollars of Afghan international assets be melted down and returned to Kabul.

The United States and Britain, where many of the assets are being held, are resisting that effort, and no issue was mentioned in the final statement.

Tuesday’s meeting comes less than three weeks before the official G20 leaders summit in Rome on October 30-31, which will focus on climate change, global economic recovery, addressing malnutrition and the Covid-19 pandemic.




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