GENEVA: The Red Cross appealed to states and donors to set aside their political objections to the Taliban and resume aid flows to Afghanistan's state institutions to ease an unbearable humanitarian situation there.
The hardline Islamist Taliban celebrated a year in power on Monday with small scale celebrations as the country struggles with rising poverty, drought and malnutrition that has left half of its population of about 40 million dependent on humanitarian aid to survive.
The International Committee of the Red Cross International Committee on the Red Cross ICRC is one of the actors that provide aid after donors abruptly stopped funding in response to the Taliban takeover, amid concerns of the new rulers' respect for women's rights and fears of breaching sanctions.
ICRC director-general Robert Mardini told Reuters that the cut-off was not sustainable.
Humanitarian organisations alone can't replace the public institutions of a country of 40 million people, he said. Our message is to ask states and development agencies to return to Afghanistan and continue to support Afghans who are already facing an unbearable situation. To fill the funding gap, the ICRC is providing support to 33 hospitals, paying staff salaries, and even providing food on patients' trays.
Mardini said that the economic situation in the country is so bad that many urban residents are resorting to selling personal belongings in the street and begging in bread lines in order to survive.
Asked what would happen if donors do not heed the call to resume aid, he said that a return to conflict would be possible after a period of relative stability since the departure of US-led foreign forces.
This is a recipe for failure, this is a recipe for more tension among communities, and it's also from our experience at the ICRC a recipe for more conflict, he said.