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EU pledges 1 billion euros for Afghan people at virtual G20

A Taliban fighter (left) stands guard as Afghan medical staff members wait at the entrance of a hospital to receive the victims of an explosion in Kabul, on October 3, 2021. (Hoshang Hashimi/AFP)
A Taliban fighter (left) stands guard as Afghan medical staff members wait at the entrance of a hospital to receive the victims of an explosion in Kabul, on October 3, 2021. (Hoshang Hashimi/AFP)

The European Union warns that humanitarian aid for Afghans won’t suffice in itself to keep hunger at bay as winter approaches after the bloc announces a support package worth 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion) on Tuesday.

The 27-nation bloc makes the pledge during a virtual summit of the Group of 20 dedicated to Afghanistan. The Italian government, which holds the G-20 presidency, says the aim of the meeting was to address “urgent” humanitarian support for Afghans, the fight against terrorism and freedom of movement for Afghans inside the country and out.

The EU support package, which includes 300 million euros ($346 million) that had been committed earlier, will be targeted at the Afghan population only and neighboring countries, which have been the first to provide immediate aid.

Beyond such humanitarian aid, EU development aid to the country remains frozen since the Taliban took power in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The EU remains careful not to legitimize the Taliban interim government.

“But the Afghan people should not pay the price of the Taliban’s actions,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says. “This is why the Afghan support package is for the Afghan people and the country´s neighbors who have been the first in providing them with help.”

The aid comes as the United Nations is warning that the Afghan economy is on the verge of collapse and urging countries to inject cash.

Afghanistan, which before the Taliban takeover was dependent on international aid that accounted for 75 percent of state spending, is grappling with a liquidity crisis as assets remain frozen in the US and other countries, and disbursements from international organizations have been put on hold.

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