Chair’s Statement by USAID Administrator Samantha Power following a High-Level Roundtable on Afghanistan

Press Release Shim

Speeches Shim

Statement

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Today I convened a High-Level Roundtable on Afghanistan with key donors, to discuss humanitarian and development assistance principles and priorities in the country. As I stated at the outset of this frank, wide-ranging discussion, there is no more complex set of issues facing the international donor community.

This High-Level Roundtable included senior representatives from Australia, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, and the Islamic Development Bank Group, as well as the United States.

Participants underscored their concern over and commitment to the people of Afghanistan, especially women, girls and minorities. Participants were also deeply concerned about ensuring that girls are able to return to school and the challenges facing the Afghan health sector.

Half of Afghanistan’s population is in need of humanitarian assistance, and humanitarian agencies document significant displacement due to factors like conflict and severe drought. Most Afghans live in rural areas, exposing them to rising food prices and food insecurity as the ongoing drought decimates crop harvests. Malnutrition is common among children, and the country’s health sector is on the brink of collapse. Harsh weather during the upcoming winter months will likely exacerbate these and other conditions further.

Many donors, including the US, described the increased humanitarian contributions they have made in response to the current crisis to provide vulnerable Afghans with critically needed food, emergency health needs, including COVID-19 assistance, and other urgently needed humanitarian relief. They expressed gratitude to the many humanitarian partners, including NGOs and UN relief agencies, that are working under difficult and uncertain circumstances to rapidly bring about the safe continuation of life-saving programs across Afghanistan. Given immense and immediate health sector needs, several government representatives also urged the World Bank to urgently develop a plan for providing funding, outside of government channels, for clinics delivering vital health services in Afghanistan.

The US and our donor partners are broadly aligned around principles for the provision of humanitarian assistance, including the need for the Taliban to permit female aid workers to operate independently, maintain the safety of aid workers, allow assistance to reach all vulnerable people regardless of gender, ethnicity, or other demographic characteristics, and ensure that humanitarian aid is not taxed or otherwise subjected to levies. Donors stressed that humanitarian assistance will be channeled through non-governmental organizations and UN channels; not through the Taliban or other sanctioned entities and individuals.

The United States is committed to continuing to provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people in Afghanistan through independent international and NGO partners as long as we and our partners are safely able to do so. We have provided more than $330 million in humanitarian aid this year.

The participants in today’s Roundtable committed to continue consultations on a range of follow-on areas to build on the progress of this initial session, and they underscored the necessity of building a unified approach to this complex set of issues.

Last updated: October 20, 2021

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