ROME — The European Union pledged $1.15 billion in support for the Afghan people, and the Group of 20 countries vowed to accelerate aid Tuesday amid concerns that an already precarious humanitarian and financial situation will grow catastrophic over the winter.
G-20 leaders demanded at a virtual summit hosted by Italy that the Taliban government allow humanitarian access across Afghanistan, keep Kabul Airport and the country’s borders open and ensure security for U.N., humanitarian and diplomatic staff. They also repeated previous demands that women’s rights be respected.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi said the meeting represented the first multilateral response to the crisis sparked by the August withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the takeover of the country by the Taliban.
Draghi told reporters negotiations would be necessary with the Taliban to get humanitarian aid distributed. But he said such contact by no means constituted a political recognition of the Taliban, who he said would be “judged for what their deeds are, not their words.”
“The government, as we know, it’s not really inclusive, it’s not really representative,” he said. “Women’s rights, so far as far as we can see, it seems like they’re going back 20 years.”
G-20 leaders — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were represented by ministers while U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the summit — tasked the United Nations with coordinating the humanitarian response and asked international financial institutions to ensure the functioning of Afghanistan’s financial system.
The U.N. has warned that the Afghan economy is on the verge of collapse. Afghanistan, which before the Taliban takeover was dependent on international aid that accounted for 75 percent of state spending, is grappling with a liquidity crisis as assets remain frozen in the U.S. and other countries, and disbursements from international organizations have been put on hold.
“We all have nothing to gain if the entire monetary or financial system in Afghanistan is collapsing, because then humanitarian aid can no longer be provided either,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin.
During the meeting, the European Union announced a support package worth $1.15 billion, which includes$346 million that had been committed earlier. It will be targeted at the Afghan population only and neighboring countries, which have been the first to provide immediate aid.
The EU remains careful not to legitimize the Taliban interim government.
“But the Afghan people should not pay the price of the Taliban’s actions,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.