Afghanistan's economy is collapsing `before our eyes': UN

United Nations, Dec 10: The UN humanitarian chief warned that Afghanistan's economic collapse “is happening before our eyes” and urged the international community to take action to stop "the freefall” before it leads to more deaths.

Martin Griffiths said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that donor nations need to agree that in addition to emergency humanitarian aid they need to support basic services for the Afghan people including education, hospitals, electricity and paying civil servants — and they must inject liquidity into the economy which has seen the banking system “pretty well shut down.”

“We're seeing the economic collapse being exponential,” he said. “It's getting more and more dire by the week.”

Griffiths said the liquidity issue must be settled by the end of the year and money must be funneled to front-line service workers during the winter, adding that he had to revise his earlier view that Afghanistan could get through the winter on pure humanitarian assistance because of the worsening economic situation.

As one example, he said, four million children are out of school and 9 million more will be soon and the reason is simple – 70 per cent of teachers haven't been paid since August. “And if we don't make that happen, all that discussion about the right of women and girls going to school becomes academic,” he said.

“So, my message today is a wake-up call about the humanitarian consequences of an economic collapse and the need to take urgent action,” Griffiths said.

The Taliban overran most of Afghanistan as US and NATO forces were in the final stages of their chaotic withdrawal from the country after 20 years. Taliban forces entered Kabul on August 15 without any resistance from the Afghan army or the country's president, Ashraf Ghani, who fled.

The Taliban initially promised tolerance and inclusiveness toward women and ethnic minorities but their actions so far, including renewed restrictions on women and the appointment of an all-male government, have been met with dismay by the international community.

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