The United Nations is trying to raise more than $ 600m (£ 434m) in aid to Afghanistan, warning the country of a major humanitarian crisis.
The group is holding a conference in Geneva on Monday calling for international support following the Taliban takeover last month.
“Afghans urgently need food, medicine, health services, safe water [and] sanitation,” the UN said. It added that the $ 600m target would bring “vital relief” to millions.
“The country is facing an extremely dire situation and is facing long-running conflicts, severe droughts and the Covid-19 pandemic in a context where … almost half of the population already needs help,” a UN statement said. .
“Recent developments have increased their weaknesses,” it added. “The economy is running out of money. The concern for the rights of women and girls is on the rise.”
“Rapid action and support from the international community is vital,” the UN said. It called on the Taliban to provide unrestricted access to aid workers.
Even before Islamist militants regained control of Afghanistan in August, more than 550,000 people were forced to flee their homes this year because of their struggle.
That means an estimated 3.5 million people are currently internally displaced in the country. Afghans also have to contend with a severe drought, as well as food shortages.
The conference on Monday will be attended by top UN officials as well as aid organizations including the Red Cross and various international governments.
About a third of the money they seek to raise would be used by the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), which previously said many Afghans did not have access to cash to afford enough food.
“It is now a race against time and snow to deliver life-saving aid,” WFP Deputy Regional Director Anthea Webb told Reuters news agency. “We offer quite literally and borrowed to prevent the food hours from running out.”