The former UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Michael Keating, on Friday warned that if the international community abandons Afghanistan, there will not only be humanitarian consequences, but also security consequences.
Talking to UK Sky News from Brussels, Keating said: “I think abandoning the people of Afghanistan and allowing them just to become a nation of beggars is neither in the interests of Afghans themselves or the region, nor is it in the interests of the international community. That is likely to have not only humanitarian consequences, but security consequences. It will result in more displacement, migration, more illicit economic activity like narcotics, selling of organs and things.”
Keating says one of the biggest challenges is getting money into the country, paying salaries of civil servants, and enabling the central banks of Afghanistan to function. “The issue is how to get the economy functioning, how to get that money circulating in the economy. Otherwise, this terrible, essentially acute crisis will turn into a chronic one," he said.
In the meantime, the UK on Friday announced that it has pledged £97 million of emergency aid to the people of Afghanistan to provide life-saving food and emergency health support. According to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the pledged aid will provide food, health services and water for 2.7 million people.
The UK said its funds will go directly to the people of Afghanistan through the UN agencies active in the country. “The UK continues to provide vital humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. We have doubled UK aid this year to save lives, protect women and girls and support stability in the region,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
Keating’s remarks follow a similar warning by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) which in a newly published report says that the economic measures imposed on Afghanistan have blocked the flow of money into and within the country. NRC says if these measures are not removed or eased, millions of in-need people will be unable to receive emergency relief provided by international humanitarian organizations.
“The unresolved liquidity crisis is a key driver in what is becoming the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world. We recently called for USD 4.4 billion for starving Afghans - the biggest call of its kind in the history of humanitarian work. But unless the US Treasury and other Western financial authorities enable us to transfer the aid money, we will be forced to work with our hands tied, unable to get that money to the communities who desperately need it,” warned Jan Egeland, NRC’s Secretary General.
Following the collapse of the previous Afghan government, over $9 billion assets of Afghanistan’s central bank was frozen and development assistance to the country stopped. The liquidity crisis and the disruption of banking system has faced the nation with severe economic problems.