Britain to co-host Afghanistan aid summit, hoping to raise $4.4 billion

LONDON: Britain said on Tuesday it would co-host an international aid conference with the United Nations next month to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, where poverty and hunger have spiralled since the Taliban took power last year.

The virtual pledging conference will aim to help the United Nations raise $4.4 billion for Afghanistan, the largest amount it has ever requested for a single country.

Most foreign aid was cut off after the Taliban toppled the Western-backed government in the summer. The United Nations estimates 98% of Afghans are not eating enough and hospitals and schools cannot afford to pay staff.

“The scale of need is unparalleled, and consequences of inaction will be devastating,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

“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.”

A combination of the loss of foreign aid, a severe drought, and a currency crisis have left Afghanistan’s economy on the brink of collapse with food prices rising rapidly and causing widespread hunger.

The donor conference comes as the international community continues to grapple with how to help Afghanistan without benefiting the country’s Taliban rulers.

During its previous rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban banned women from leaving the house without a male relative and full face and head covering and girls from receiving education.

The Taliban initially promised to form a more inclusive government, but claims of summary executions and the curtailed the rights of women have been met with dismay by western governments.