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Iran Press TV

WHO chief meets Taliban leaders to assess humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 5:39 PM

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has met with senior Taliban officials in the Afghan capital to assess and address the deepening humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged country.

Media reports citing Taliban sources reported that the WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus met with the Taliban's acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul on Tuesday.

The acting foreign minister reportedly told the WHO chief that "delays in humanitarian aid and the creation of 'similar barriers' undermine the status and reputation of the international community."

"Sanctions and pressures show that international humanitarian aid is in the hands of the 'powerful few,'" the acting minister added.

Earlier, Ghebreyesus said in a post on social media that he would be visiting health facilities, and meet with health workers as well as the Taliban leadership to discuss the health of Afghan people.

Ghebreyesus also met with Mohammad Hasan Akhund, the Taliban's head of cabinet ministers, and his deputies to get an overview of the situation in Afghanistan.

The WHO had already warned that hundreds of medical facilities in Afghanistan were at risk of imminent closure because the donors who finance them are barred from dealing with the new Taliban administration.

According to a 15-point proposal addressed to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and signed by the Taliban's acting minister of foreign affairs, the Taliban leaders have promised to remove "impediments" to aid, to protect humanitarian workers, and to safeguard aid offices.

The September 10 statement also echoed previous pledges to commit to "all rights of women ... in the light of religion and culture."

As per the OCHA estimates, Afghanistan has the second-highest number of people facing emergency levels of hunger in the world. An estimated 5.5 million children are projected to face crisis levels of hunger in the second half of this year.

Last week, donors pledged more than $1.1 billion in aid for Afghanistan.

The pledges were made at a UN conference in Geneva. The world body has warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in the country.

China and Russia said the main burden of helping Afghanistan out of crisis should lie with Western countries.

The government of Afghanistan rapidly collapsed on August 15 and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country in the face of the lightning advances of the Taliban that followed US President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw American troops in a disastrous pullout.

On September 7, the Taliban announced the formation of a caretaker government. The group first ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 until the United States invaded the country and toppled the Taliban-run government in 2001 on the pretext of fighting terrorism following the September 11 attacks in the US.

Western countries and international financial organizations have suspended aid to Afghanistan, depriving it of billions of dollars needed to finance vital food imports, as the Taliban have not been recognized by the international community.

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