United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the rules and conditions that prevent funds from being used to save Afghan lives must be suspended, saying "freezing temperatures and frozen assets are a lethal combination" for the people of Afghanistan.
Talking at a press conference on January 13, Guterres once again warned that every Afghan could face acute poverty without a more concerted effort from the international community, saying that more than half of Afghanistan’s population now depends on life-saving assistance.
The secretary general said that the United Nations’ largest appeal for Afghanistan reflects the scale of despair in the country where the situation for every Afghan is deteriorating.
“Just two days ago, the United Nations launched our largest ever humanitarian appeal for a single country and the scale of that appeal reflects the scale of the despair, babies being sold to feed their siblings, freezing health facilities overflowing with malnourished children, people burning their possessions to keep warm, livelihoods from across the country have been lost,” said Antonio Guterres.
According to Guterres, the United Nations requires more than $5 billion this year to ramp up life-saving food and agriculture support, health services, treatment for malnutrition, emergency shelter, water and sanitation, protection and emergency education.
Guterres said that the function of Afghanistan’s Central Bank must be preserved and assisted, and a path must be identified for the conditional release of Afghan foreign currency reserves.
Pointing to the overdue salaries of civil servants in Afghanistan, he said that International funding should be allowed to pay the salaries of public sector workers, and to help Afghan institutions deliver healthcare, education and other vital services.
The United Nations is taking steps to inject cash into the economy through creative authorized arrangements, he said. "But it is a drop in the bucket. We must do even more to rapidly inject liquidity into the economy and avoid a meltdown that would lead to poverty, hunger and destitution for millions."
The UN secretary general called on the Islamic Emirate leadership to recognize and protect fundamental human rights, and in particular the rights of women and girls. “The women and girls of Afghanistan must have access to all education and employment opportunities, health care and other essential services. No country can thrive while denying the rights of half of its population,” he said.