The following statement by Secretary-General António Guterres was issued today:
On the day Afghanistan enters a new phase I want to express my grave concern at the deepening humanitarian and economic crisis in the country and the threat of basic services collapsing completely.
Today, almost half of the population of Afghanistan – 18 million people – need humanitarian assistance to survive. One in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from. More than half of all children under-five are expected to become acutely malnourished in the next year. People are losing access to basic goods and services every day. A humanitarian catastrophe looms.
Now more than ever, Afghan children, women and men need the support and solidarity of the international community. The humanitarian system’s commitment to stay and deliver will not waver. Already this year, we have delivered aid to eight million people. In the last fortnight we delivered food to 80,000 people and relief packages to thousands of displaced families. Yesterday we airlifted 12.5 metric tons of medical supplies into the country.
Amid a severe drought and with harsh winter conditions on the horizon, extra food, shelter and health supplies must be urgently fast-tracked into the country. I call on all parties to facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access for life-saving and life-sustaining supplies, as well as for all humanitarian workers – men and women.
Next week, we will release details of the most immediate humanitarian needs and funding requirements over the next four months in a Flash Appeal for Afghanistan. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths is coordinating the entire UN system in the preparation of the appeal.
I urge all Member States to dig deep for the people of Afghanistan in their darkest hour of need. I urge them to provide timely, flexible and comprehensive funding. I urge them to help ensure humanitarian workers have the funding, access, and legal safeguards they need to stay and deliver.