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AP interview: UN refugee chief says Afghan stability is needed

The head of the UN refugee agency says the international community and the Taliban will have to find a way to deal with each other to stabilize Afghanistan

In an interview with The Associated Press, Filippo Grandi said the world faces a tough choice. He said there was a need to balance the danger of an isolated Afghanistan descending into violence and chaos against the political minefield supporting a Taliban-led government.

“The international community will need to strike a balance between pragmatism, the need to keep Afghanistan stable and viable, and the political considerations that this would mean supporting a government led by the Taliban,” Grandi said.

The Taliban overthrew the US-backed Afghan government on August 15. They have come under international criticism for forming an interim government made up entirely of Taliban members despite promises to be more inclusive. Governments around the world have said they will not recognize the new Afghan leadership until a more inclusive government is in place.

Grandi said compromise is urgently needed to avoid an economic collapse that could cause the violence and chaos that would trigger a mass exodus. A collapse of the already fragile Afghan economy would engulf Afghanistan’s neighbors and reverberate across the world, he said.

“It is urgent. It is not one of those development issues that can be discussed for five years before reaching a conclusion, but it will require compromises on the part of everyone,” he said. he said, “I think the international community will have to adapt some of its more stringent rules for working with governments … and the Taliban will also have to compromise.”

Grandi said he had met with Taliban ministers and found that they were listening to them. They are having discussions among themselves, suggesting that some might be open to a less harsh, less restrictive approach than their past rule, he said. He added, however, that they will be judged on their actions.

The task of responding to Afghanistan’s humanitarian needs enjoys global support, he said, as indicated by the $ 1.2 billion raised by the UN on Monday.

Grandi said humanitarian aid must be delivered quickly so people are fed and protected, noting that winter is just around the corner.

As the world unites to deliver humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the logistical challenge is enormous in a country that does not even have a functioning banking system. Every day, thousands of people gather in front of banks in the Afghan capital in the hope of withdrawing the $ 200 allocated to them each week.

The UN has warned that by the end of the year 97% of Afghans will live below the poverty line.

More than 3.5 million people have been displaced by the fighting in recent years and more than half a million in the last month alone. Many live in makeshift camps in parks in the Afghan capital. Dozens of families shelter under tattered sheets stretched over ropes.

In Kabul’s Shahr-e-Now Park, 63 families live in squalid conditions, many children are sick, and the only portable bathroom has long exceeded its capacity. The women wash behind a foul-smelling curtain.

Conditions will only get worse as winter approaches, said Grandi, who is scrambling to provide shelter.

“This political, military crisis, this change of government that has taken place has taken the entire population at the worst possible time, emerging from years of insecurity,” said Grandi. “That’s why it’s so hard to tackle it now.”


ABC News