UK pledges extra £286m of emergency aid for Afghan people

Ranger Neil McGrory, from the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, with Afghan children, in Helmand province. Credit: PA

The UK is pledging an extra £286 million of emergency aid to provide life-sustaining food, shelter and medical supplies for people in Afghanistan.

The announcement comes as Britain is set to co-host a United Nations (UN) international pledging summit to help raise more than £3 billion for humanitarian relief in the wake of the Taliban takeover.

The new multi-million package of UK aid, which matches the value of last year’s commitment, will provide “life-saving food and emergency health support” to Afghan people, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said.

The funds will also support basic services such as improving access to healthcare, and helping farmers overcome the impact of drought, it added.

Afghanistan has been thrown into a worsening humanitarian disaster since the withdrawal of US, British and other western forces in August last year.

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “The UK is rallying countries in support of the Afghan people and helping lead the way in providing life-sustaining food, shelter and medical supplies.

“Together with allies and partners, we can do more and will do more to help Afghanistan.”

The Foreign Office said the new UK funds will be channelled through UN partners and trusted non-governmental organisations (NGOs), with none going directly to the Taliban.

Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “The people of Afghanistan deserve the right not only to survive, but to thrive and live in freedom. Our humanitarian aid supports the most vulnerable, including girls and women as well as marginalised religious minorities.

“I’m proud the UK is co-hosting this conference with the United Nations, Qatar and Germany, to strengthen the international response which has already saved lives this winter.”

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The Foreign Office said the UN estimates around 10 million children across Afghanistan urgently need humanitarian assistance to survive.

Thursday’s conference will source funds for these means, it said, as well as to protect women and girls and support stability in the region.

The department added that Ms Truss will “commit to putting women and girls at the heart of the UK’s response”, stressing the Taliban must “engage constructively to protect their rights and urgently reverse the decision to prevent girls attending secondary school”.

The UN is seeking to raise 4.4 billion US dollars (£3.6 billion) to help Afghans in need of urgent aid – its biggest-ever appeal for a single country.