European Union declares a 1-Billion Euro aid package for Afghanistan when G20 leaders gathered to address the humanitarian crisis there.European Union declares a 1-Billion Euro aid package for Afghanistan when G20 leaders gathered to address the humanitarian crisis there.
The virtual summit conducted on Tuesday focused on addressing the impending humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and the EU started off the meeting by announcing a one-billion-euro aid ($1.2-billion-euro) package for the war-torn nation, also now facing an economic crisis as well.
After a previous G7 meeting on Afghanistan following the August takeover by the Taliban, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi had been striving for a broader discussion involving other world powers.
As the talks began, European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen announced an aid package to help “avert a major humanitarian and socio-economic collapse” in Afghanistan.
The money totals 250 million euros to a 300-million-euro sum previously announced by the EU for urgent humanitarian needs, with the remainder going to Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries taking in Afghans fleeing the Taliban, a statement said.
It stressed that the EU funds are “direct support” for Afghans and would be channelled to international organisations working on the ground, not to the Taliban’s interim government which Brussels does not recognise.
US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among those dialling into the meeting hosted by Italy, although Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin sent representatives.
The G20 includes the United States, EU, China, Turkey, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia among others.
Tuesday’s conference came as the Taliban held their first face-to-face talks with a joint EU-US delegation in Qatar, as the hardline Islamists continue their diplomatic for international support.
International aid has been blocked to Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power following the withdrawal of US and other international troops after 20 years of war.
The country’s assets held abroad have been frozen, while food prices and employment is rising, prompting warnings of a humanitarian disaster once winter arrives.
The United Nations and Qatar, a key broker in Afghanistan which has also hosted talks between the US and the Taliban, were also invited to Tuesday’s closed-door talks, after which Draghi will hold a press conference in Rome.
The G20 meeting will also address the issue of security.
Draghi, whose country was a key player in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, said last month leaders would also look at measures the international community can take “to stop Afghanistan from again becoming a hotbed of international terrorism”.
The Taliban regime, still yet to be acknowledged as a legitimate government by any other country, is itself facing a threat from the ISIS-Khorasan, who have begun a series of lethal attacks with a recent suicide bomber killing over a hundred people and injuring over 150 civilians in a mosque on Friday.