$1 billion pledge a 'quantum leap' in commitment to Afghanistan: UN chief

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

New York [US], September 14 (ANI): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday hailed significant international financial support pledged to the people of Afghanistan following a meeting in Geneva, which nearly doubled the initial USD 606 million flash appeal for the country.

"Today, we have already heard clearly more than USD 1 billion in pledges...It represents a quantum leap in relation to the financial commitment of the international community towards the Afghan people," said Guterres.

On Monday, the United Nations convened an aid conference in Geneva where the nation's pledged more than $1 billion for Afghanistan in the hopes of lessening the humanitarian crisis facing Afghans.

UN relief chief Martin Griffiths confirmed in his closing remarks to the meeting that more than USD 1.2 billion in humanitarian and development aid in total had been promised, incorporating both Monday's appeal, and the regional response.

"The funding will throw a lifeline to Afghans who lack those services; to the small children that Henrietta Fore of UNICEF spoke of, who face the risk of acute malnutrition; to the many women and girls who could lose their access to reproductive health services, and much more," said the Emergency Relief Coordinator, and head of the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA.

In an encounter with journalists on the sidelines of the high-level ministerial meeting, the Secretary-General noted that the fact that nearly 100 member states had taken part - in addition to more than 30 regional and international organisations - underscored that the crisis in Afghanistan remained a crucial issue for the global community.

"The funding will throw a lifeline to Afghans who lack those services; to the small children that Henrietta Fore of UNICEF spoke of, who face the risk of acute malnutrition; to the many women and girls who could lose their access to reproductive health services, and much more," said the Emergency Relief Coordinator, and head of the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA.

In an encounter with journalists on the sidelines of the high-level ministerial meeting, the Secretary-General noted that the fact that nearly 100 Member States had taken part - in addition to more than 30 regional and international organisations - underscored that the crisis in Afghanistan remained a crucial issue for the global community.

The UN chief reiterated the importance of ensuring that assistance did not come at the expense of hard-won gains for women and minorities in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.

"We are of course very much concerned in making sure that humanitarian assistance is an entry point for effective engagement with the Taliban in all other aspects of concern of the international community," he said, after appealing for $606 million to provide urgent assistance to 11 million people over the next four months.

While immediate concerns have focused on the provision of emergency aid to avert a major humanitarian crisis in the country, Mr. Guterres warned that such assistance "will not solve the problem if the economy of Afghanistan collapses. And we know that the risk is enormous and that there is a dramatic lack of cash." (ANI)

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