CHRISTIAN AID has called on the UK Government to help Afghan people in need by “massively stepping up our own contribution” on the six-month anniversary of the fall of Kabul.   

On 15 February, the UK Government announced plans to co-host an upcoming United Nations virtual pledging summit to help address the growing humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan. Donor countries, UN agencies and Afghan civil society are expected to take part in the virtual event.

Fionna Smyth, Head of Global Advocacy and Policy at Christian Aid, said: “Afghanistan is in crisis with millions on the verge of starvation. Reports of the elimination of women and girls from society are heartbreaking. However, the way to ensure the rights of women is not to starve them or their families.

“Following the efforts of Christian Aid and other campaigners, it is welcome news that the UK Government will host a United Nations virtual pledging summit.

“This is a step in the right direction. It must, however, be coupled with massively stepping up our own contribution to prevent famine and action to get the Afghan economy back on its feet.

“With the UN asking for $4.4 billion, the £286 million committed by the UK is a drop in the ocean and does not reflect our historic responsibility. To make this summit a success, the UK has a moral duty to lead by example.”

The £286 million pledged by the UK Government is less than the 2019 level, following cuts to the UK aid budget.

Also commenting, Gwen Hines, Chief Executive of Save the Children UK, said: “We welcome today’s announcement that the UK will co-host an upcoming United Nations virtual pledging summit. The situation in Afghanistan continues to be horrific, with many children and their families succumbing to illness and starvation.

“A third of families have lost their entire household income since August. Our teams are treating frighteningly ill children who have eaten nothing but bread for months. We are doing everything we can to get them the help they need, but we’re also seeing parents make impossible decisions and painful sacrifices to feed their children.

“It’s crucial that the pledging summit is held as soon as possible to avert more tragedy and for the UK to fund its fair share of the $4.4 billion the UN desperately needs. The time is now for world leaders to find a way to unlock vital funds and unfreeze financial assets to prevent the crisis from spiralling any further.”

* Sources: Christian Aid and Save the Children UK