Foreign secretary pledges £97 million of emergency UK aid to support Afghanistan in crisis

Foreign secretary Liz Truss has pledged £97 million of emergency UK aid to the Afghan people to provide life-saving food and emergency health support, as well as water and sanitation facilities.

This latest allocation of support means the UK has now delivered on its promise to double UK aid to Afghanistan, with £286 million committed this financial year.

UK aid allocated since October will support over 60 hospitals, provide health services for over 300,000 people; ensure 4.47 million people get emergency food assistance through the World Food Programme; and provide 6.1 million people with emergency health, water, protection, shelter, food, and education support through the UN Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund.

The Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Nigel Casey and government officials joined a meeting of US and European Special Representatives for Afghanistan in Oslo earlier this week to discuss economic and humanitarian issues, security and counter-terrorism, and human rights. UK officials made clear to the Taliban delegation their “serious concerns about human rights – in particular the rights of women and girls and reports of reprisals against former members of the Afghan security forces.”

Earlier this week the UK government adopted into law a humanitarian exception from UN sanctions meaning aid agencies can operate without fear of undue legal repercussions. Previously, charities and humanitarian agencies trying to bring aid into Afghanistan faced legal difficulties as a result of UN sanctions against senior Taliban leaders.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said: “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.

“The funds announced today will mean essential food, shelter and health supplies will reach those who are most in need.”

The government says the funds will be used to provide food and healthcare, as well as assistance to survivors of gender-based violence. The support will also fund essential child protection services. Aid agencies will prioritise those most at risk, including households headed by women and people with disabilities.

The UK funding will be primarily channelled through the UN Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund ,World Food Programme (WFP), and United Nations Children’s Fund, with no funding going directly to the Taliban.

Responding to the news of the new aid contributions, Laura Kyrke Smith, Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee in the UK, said: “The Foreign secretary’s disbursement of further UK aid  is welcome. But aid can’t solve the deep set financial crisis facing Afghanistan.

The economic abandonment of Afghanistan by the international community has accelerated the humanitarian crisis. It is Afghans who are now paying the price. The UN has warned that  a staggering 97% of Afghans could be plunged into poverty by mid 2022. IRC clinics saw a thirty-fold increase in acutely malnourished children in the last month alone.”