IRC statement on UK aid to Afghanistan

IRC responds to UK aid pledge to support 2.7m Afghans

In response to the Foreign Secretary’s pledge of £97 million of emergency aid to Afghanistan, 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.

There are three  steps the Government must take immediately. 

First, it is welcome to see the UK adopt domestic legislation to translate humanitarian exemptions to sanctions agreed at the UN Security Council into UK Law. In addition, the UK should issue clear guidance to assure banks that they can transfer funds to Afghanistan without penalties. These steps are vital for humanitarians and the recovery of the private sector in Afghanistan. 

Second, UK global leadership is required to address a key driver of the economic crisis. The Government should begin the gradual release of assets held in the Bank of England, and encourage other states to do the same. 

Finally, the UK should drive efforts at the World Bank to restore funding  to Afghanistan to pay the salaries of doctors and teachers. Without this step rhetorical commitments to the health of women and girls and girls’ education will ring hollow. 

Given the severity of the situation, progress on these steps is needed immediately. The Afghan people cannot wait any longer.”