Afghanistan is facing disaster and ministers do not seem to care – but Labor does | Stephen Kinnock

For for 20 years, the afghan economy has been almost entirely dependent on financial support from the international donor community, provided to the afghan government to cover the running costs of the public sector such as salaries for doctors, nurses, teachers, judges, police and civil servants. This international development assistance included 43% of Afghanistan’s GDP and 75% of its public spending at the time of Kabul’s collapse, so it’s no wonder the Afghan economy is now on the brink of total collapse following the international community’s understandable refusal to channel funding through the Taliban.

At the same time, the entire Afghan banking system has been closed, which means that Afghans have little access to money in addition to importing suitcases full of cash.

Britain has a moral duty to support vulnerable Afghans, and that is also in the national interest. The British military and women should be proud of how their dedicated work has helped to give women and girls in Afghanistan freedom and opportunities that have previously been out of reach, while preventing terrorist attacks in the West. But political failures mean that Afghans now face Taliban oppression and starvation while Europe faces another refugee crisis. We need a solution.

As winter sets in, Afghanistan is on the verge of disaster. David Beasley, Executive Director of the UN World Food Program, warned earlier this month that “23 million people are marching against hunger … The next six months will be catastrophic. It will be hell on earth.” Heartbreaking reports about parents sell their children begins to appear. The The UN has confirmed that 55% of the population face acute food insecurity.

Labor supports the international community’s reluctance to channel financial support through the Taliban. It would be wrong and naive to reward or legitimize the Taliban’s brutal 20-year campaign of terror, death and destruction.

But fortunately, there are alternative ways to provide humanitarian and financial support to the Afghan people. Today, Labor is urging the British government to deliver decisive leadership and proactive diplomacy by taking the following three steps.

First, the Foreign Minister must convene partner countries that are willing and able to mobilize Afghanistan’s major Western donors to deliver off – budget aid. The two multi-donor funds are the World Bank’s now suspended Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and the UN Development Programme’s Special Trust Fund for Afghanistan (STFA). Both can operate independently of the Taliban by channeling funds and paying salaries directly to the Afghan public sector and NGOs through a model that is both controlled and auditable. Such operations have been carried out in other countries.

Yet World Bank and UNDP officials can only act if they are instructed to do so by their political masters – the governments of donor countries. The British government must therefore organize a meeting with other donors immediately.

Secondly, our government must take the lead in reactivating some form of cash flow in Afghanistan. The banking sector is on the verge of collapse, but international banks fear US sanctions for being seen supporting the Taliban. The result is that there is virtually no domestic currency in circulation in Afghanistan. The UK Government must therefore call on the partner countries to change their respective sanctions regimes – on which the United States has already taken some initial steps – in order to facilitate the re-establishment of focused banking services that can help deliver humanitarian aid.

Third, in the long run, it will be essential for aid organizations and NGOs to have some clarity on what donor governments will or will not accept in terms of Taliban behavior and practices. However, if each government develops its own guidelines and conditions, this will make it impossible for the aid community to operate effectively on the ground. The UK Government should therefore convene key donors to agree on a set of basic principles that will both enable aid workers to work more effectively and send a clear and consistent message to the Taliban (instead of continuing with any Western government). working to slightly different standards).

Consecutive conservative governments since 2010 have caused terrible damage to our country’s position in the world, but the Johnson administration seems intent on destroying our reputation completely. The decision to abandon Britain’s commitment Spending 0.7% of our GDP on development has fundamentally undermined our credibility and international influence.

But despite Johnson’s weaknesses, Britain is the world’s fifth largest economy – and as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, we still have the unifying power and diplomatic influence needed to tackle the Afghan crisis.

The question is whether the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister care enough to take action. Labor is not investing in that, and that is why we are spoon-feeding the government by presenting our urgent three-point plan today. The consequences of further inaction are simply too devastating to consider.

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