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Afghanistan: EU humanitarian aid package 'not enough', says International Crisis Group

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By Josephine Joly  with Reuters
Italian Premier Mario Draghi during a press conference at the end of a virtual summit of the Group of 20 dedicated to Afghanistan in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi during a press conference at the end of a virtual summit of the Group of 20 dedicated to Afghanistan in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021.   -   Copyright  Gregorio Borgia / AP

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned earlier this week that the world must take action on Afghanistan, saying that the country is "at a make-or-break moment".

To help Afghanistan out of its crisis, the European Union announced on Tuesday that it will provide a revamped humanitarian aid package worth €1 billion to deal with the aftermath of the Taliban takeover.

The new package includes €300 million which had already been pledged to support the country's civilian population, protect human rights and advance the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The European Commission will now add an extra €250 million for similar purposes.

"The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is getting very serious", said Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi. "Representatives of international institutions in the United Nations have spoken of a real humanitarian catastrophe."

Draghi stressed that providing humanitarian aid does not mean giving political recognition to the Taliban. "But action must be taken quickly", he added.

"We need to prevent the economic collapse of the country, and this immediately means preventing the country's payment system from collapsing, so that payments can no longer be made. In that case, it would become very difficult even to provide humanitarian assistance."

Graeme Smith, senior consultant for Afghanistan at the International Crisis Group, believes the aid package is "not enough".

"No, it's not enough, and nobody can really tell you how it's going to work, unfortunately," Smith told Euronews.

"The international community was caught by surprise when the Taliban captured the country on the 15th of August, and ever since then they've been sort of making it up as they go along. It's actually never happened before that listed terrorists take over an entire country," he added.

The liquidity and currency crises, alongside the development funding being slammed shut, have created a difficult set of issues for the international community to untangle.

Will the international community be forced to recognise the Taliban?

Meanwhile, a Taliban delegation met with EU and US representatives in Doha.

Some informal talks had already taken place in the Qatari capital over the weekend, but only between the Taliban and US – their first face-to-face meeting since the takeover in Kabul.

But for the international community to diplomatically recognise the Taliban, Smith believes it to be "a separate thing".

"All of the international community members have said this will depend on how the Taliban behave in the coming months and years. They're not interested as much in what the Taliban are saying, but what they will do. The international diplomats gathered there in Doha have all been raising these concerns about the status of women and girls under the Taliban government. And so those are the kinds of more broad issues I think that people will raise when they start talking about diplomatic recognition in the future."