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Israel donates $500,000 for Afghan refugees in Tajikistan

Pledge comes as UN announces largest-ever appeal for a single country, seeking over $5 billion for Afghans suffering at home and those who have fled

Afghans board a Qatari transport plane  to leave the country in Kabul, Afghanistan, August, 18, 2021. (Qatar Government Communications Office via AP)
Afghans board a Qatari transport plane to leave the country in Kabul, Afghanistan, August, 18, 2021. (Qatar Government Communications Office via AP)

Israel has donated $500,000 to the United Nations for food, medical aid and other assistance for Afghan refugees in Tajikistan, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Alon Ushpiz, director general of the ministry, said Israel is proud to be part of the international effort to help Afghans who fled from the Taliban takeover of the country in August.

Ushpiz said the aid was part of Israel’s commitment to the international community.

The donation came the same day the UN made what it called a record appeal to help Afghanistan and its neighboring countries.

The UN said 22 million people inside Afghanistan and a further 5.7 million displaced Afghans in five neighboring countries, about 15 percent of Afghanistan’s population, needed vital relief this year. Others continue to trickle across the border, UNHCR said, while noting that an estimated 175,000 have returned to the country since the Taliban takeover.

The appeal seeks $4.4 billion for UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and its partners, plus $623 million for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.

“A full-blown humanitarian catastrophe looms. My message is urgent: don’t shut the door on the people of Afghanistan,” said UN aid chief Martin Griffiths.

“Help us scale up and stave off widespread hunger, disease, malnutrition and ultimately death.”

Since the Taliban hardline Islamist movement seized control in mid-August as the United States ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan, the country has plunged into financial chaos, with inflation and unemployment surging.

The UN aid money will go to 160 NGOs plus UN agencies delivering aid. Some will be used to pay frontline workers such as healthcare staff — but not via the Taliban administration.

UN refugees chief Filippo Grandi said the aid package’s goal was to stabilize the situation within Afghanistan, including for internally displaced people, thereby preventing a further flood of migrants fleeing across the country’s borders.

“That movement of people will be difficult to manage, in the region and beyond, because it will not stop at the region,” he said.

“If those efforts are not successful, we will have to ask for $10 billion next year, not $5 billion.”

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