Afghan economy on the brink of collapse, diplomat warns

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The secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council has warned that the Afghan economy is on the verge of collapse.

Jan Egeland, who is in Kabul, said the country was facing a humanitarian disaster.

He warned that the formal banking system could collapse overnight due to a lack of liquidity, and said aid organizations are in a race against time to save lives before the harsh winter.

More than 93% of households consumed insufficient food in the past week, according to a survey by the World Food Program.

In a statement, Mr. Egeland said: “If the economy collapses, even the most basic services will no longer function and humanitarian needs will increase even more. Dealing with the cash flow crisis is critical as humanitarian organizations seek to expand to meet urgent humanitarian needs. Needs.

“We are in a race against time to save lives before the harsh winter arrives and temperatures drop to -20 Celsius. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are in urgent need of shelter, warm clothing and food in the coming weeks. Already, one in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from. “

He said UN member states urgently need to negotiate a multilateral agreement to stabilize Afghanistan and fund essential public services.

“Donors must focus on providing quick and effective solutions to deliver emergency aid to children, women and men who simply cannot wait any longer,” he said. “The country is on a countdown to economic collapse – we must support the Afghan people no matter what.”

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The country director in Afghanistan for the Norwegian Refugee Council said the landscape had changed dramatically for the agency this year.

Astrid Sletten said they would normally source tents, tarps, blankets and other winter essentials locally, bringing much-needed spending to the economy.

She said they will also give cash grants to families in need, to give them some dignity back to spend the money however they see fit, but the cash flow situation means that is now impossible.

“This year, we are making huge purchases in neighboring countries, especially Pakistan, and counting on Taliban support to cross the border. So we are keeping our fingers crossed that the items enter the country in time to save lives, ”she said. from Kabul.

RTÉ spoke with an Afghan journalist recently settled in Ireland who would prefer not to be identified for security reasons.

“All the companies have gone out of business because the banking system is not functional and widespread poverty has hit the whole country and at the same time there is a pervasive fear not only for the future but also for the way how the Taliban will treat people but also how the Taliban will operate the country.

“Girls after the sixth grade have been deprived of education and at the same time women cannot work.”

He said it’s especially difficult in big cities where a lot of people have grown up with a lot of freedoms over the past 20 years in terms of freedom and jobs and it’s a major shock to them now.

He is worried about the brutal scenes last weekend when the bodies of four executed men were hanged in public in Herat.

“The Taliban have committed all kinds of atrocities; killing people, beheading people, murdering journalists, and when they see this, especially children, the only thing that will stay in their minds is violence. , trauma, and that’s it. “

When asked if he still had family in Afghanistan, he replied: “I still have family and I am extremely worried for my family, my friends, my colleagues”.

Probe in The Hague about the Taliban, IS-K

The new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said he wants to focus his investigation in Afghanistan on the Taliban and Islamic State-Khorasan, and “deprioritize” alleged war crimes committed by US forces.

Karim Khan said he asked judges to allow him to restart the investigation – suspended last year at the request of the then Kabul government after he said he would investigate the case himself. war crimes – following the Taliban takeover in August.

“The recent developments in Afghanistan and the change in national authorities represent a significant change of circumstances,” said Khan, who took up his post as prosecutor in June at The Hague tribunal.

“After careful consideration of the issues, I have come to the conclusion that at present there is no prospect of genuine and effective national investigations.”

Mr. Khan asked the judges for “expedited” permission to resume the investigation.

The Afghan investigation’s inclusion of alleged US crimes infuriated Washington.

The administration of former US President Donald Trump has imposed sanctions on Mr Khan’s predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, on this issue.

Khan said he would now focus on Afghanistan due to the “limited resources” of the ICC as it investigates various situations around the world.

“So I decided to focus the investigations of my office in Afghanistan on the crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (” IS-K “) and to deprioritize other aspects of this investigation, ”he said.

This was due to “the seriousness, scale and continuing nature of the alleged crimes of the Taliban and the Islamic State” and the need to “build credible cases that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the courtroom. ‘audience,’ Khan said.

The ICC prosecutor specifically mentioned the deadly August 26 attack on Kabul airport claimed by the IS-K in which more than 100 Afghan civilians were killed as well as 13 US servicemen.

“With respect to the aspects of the investigation that have not been prioritized, my office will remain aware of its responsibilities for preserving evidence, as they arise,” he said.

The ICC was created in 2002 to investigate the world’s worst crimes in cases where member states were unable or unwilling to investigate themselves.

Former prosecutor Bensouda asked ICC judges to approve a formal investigation into Afghanistan in 2017. Appeals judges ruled in March 2020 that it could go ahead.

AFP Supplementary Reports


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