Taliban seeking greater role in distribution of foreign aid

The Taliban administration that seized control of Afghanistan proposed a joint body on Wednesday of its officials and international representatives to coordinate billions of dollars in planned aid. It was not clear whether the United Nations and foreign governments would back any such agreement as it would constitute a stark increase in access to international funding by the Taliban, whose officials have been sidelined due to sanctions. An abrupt withdrawal of foreign aid last year following the hasty US exit and Taliban victory in August left Afghanistan's fragile economy on the brink of collapse, with food prices rising rapidly and causing widespread hunger. Read more: Taliban asks UN for a seat at the table Western sanctions aimed at the Taliban also prevented the passage of basic supplies of food and medicine, although this has since eased after exemptions were passed by the UN Security Council and Washington in December. On Tuesday, the United Nations asked donors for $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan in 2022 and the White House announced it would donate an extra $308 million. read more "The goal of this committee is coordination on a higher level for facilitating humanitarian aids of the international community and to distribute aid for needy people," Afghanistan's acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi told a news conference in Kabul also attended by UN envoy Ramiz Alakbarov. "We ask the international communities that they should use the government capacities for their aid goals." Also read: Afghan Taliban seek permission to address world leaders at UN Foreign governments, facing warnings that millions could starve as the economic crisis intensifies, are ramping up humanitarian aid but are keen for it to remain free from government interference. An Afghan finance ministry spokesman said that discussions would take place over the next 24 hours with the United Nations on the proposal for the joint body. The UN Secretary General's deputy special representative for Afghanistan Alakbarov told Reuters that UN agencies were already communicating their requirements to the Taliban over aid. Their top condition has been access to the entire country, including for female staff members.

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