G20 Members Address Urgent Need for Humanitarian Aid for Afghans, EU Pledges $1.15B

The Group of 20 members discussed the urgent need to provide humanitarian aid to the Afghan people amid concerns the situation in Afghanistan will become catastrophic over the winter, and the European Union pledged 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion) in support.

During a G-20 summit, the EU announced it would pledge a support package worth 1 billion euros targeted at the Afghan population only and neighboring countries, which have been the first to provide aid.

The United Nations has warned Afghanistan's economy is on the brink of collapse, as international aid has been largely frozen following the Taliban's takeover. G-20 members urged for Afghanistan's new government to allow humanitarian aid into the country.

"We all have nothing to gain if the entire monetary or financial system in Afghanistan is collapsing, because then humanitarian aid can no longer be provided either," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin after the summit.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

G20 Summit
Group of 20 leaders discussed the urgent need to provide Afghans with humanitarian aid amid concerns the country's fragile economic and humanitarian situation will grow worse in winter. Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi speaks during a press conference following a G20 virtual summit focused on Afghanistan in Rome, on October 12. Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

G-20 leaders demanded at a virtual summit hosted by Italy that the Taliban government allow humanitarian access across Afghanistan, keep Kabul Airport and the country's borders open and ensure security for U.N., humanitarian and diplomatic staff. They also repeated previous demands that women's rights be respected.

Italian Premier Mario Draghi said the meeting represented the first multilateral response to the crisis sparked by the August withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the takeover of the country by the Taliban.

Draghi told reporters that negotiations would be necessary with the Taliban to get humanitarian aid distributed. But he said such contact by no means constituted a political recognition of the Taliban, who he said would be "judged for what their deeds are, not their words."

"The government as we know, it's not really inclusive, it's not really representative," he said. "Women's rights, so far as far as we can see, it seems like they're going back 20 years."

G-20 leaders—Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were represented by ministers while U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the summit—tasked the United Nations with coordinating the humanitarian response and asked international financial institutions to ensure the functioning of Afghanistan's financial system.

The EU remains careful not to legitimize the Taliban interim government.

"But the Afghan people should not pay the price of the Taliban's actions," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. "This is why the Afghan support package is for the Afghan people and the country´s neighbors who have been the first in providing them with help."

The White House said the U.S. "remains committed to working closely with the international community and using diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic means to address the situation in Afghanistan and support the Afghan people."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video address to the online summit that the international community should keep the channels of dialogue with the Taliban open in order to "patiently and gradually steer" it toward establishing a more inclusive administration.

He repeated that Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, can't be burdened with an influx of migrants from Afghanistan, warning that European nations would also be affected by a new wave of migrants.

"It is inevitable that European countries will also be affected by the migration pressure that Turkey will be exposed to on its southern and eastern borders," he said.

Erdogan proposed the creation of a working group on Afghanistan within the G-20 and said Turkey was willing to head such a grouping. Draghi said the proposal was interesting—Italy has long complained it has been left on its own to deal with Europe's migration problems—but said the rest of the G-20 would have to agree.

Afghanistan Humanitarian Crisis
The European Union pledged 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion) in support of the Afghanistan people. An Afghan girl walks outside a mosque marked by bullet holes at a village in Wardak province, Afghanistan, October 11. Felipe Dana/AP Photo

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