London: The United Kingdom Foreign Office has pledged to release another 97 million pounds (130 million USD) of emergency aid to Afghanistan amid concerning reports about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country, Sputnik reported citing Sky News broadcaster on Friday.
The decision came after Valerie Amos, former UN Under-Secretary-General, said on Thursday that unless money was urgently sent to the country, "three million children under five who will face acute malnutrition by March. Of those, a million children will die."
"The UK continues to provide vital humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. We have doubled UK aid this year to save lives, protect women and girls, and support stability in the region," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said, commenting on the worsening situation in the country, according to Sputnik.
In August 2021, the UK doubled its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to 286 million pounds (383 million USD) to help address the crisis in the country.
Truss added that these additional funds that will provide "essential food, shelter and health supplies will reach those who are most in need." Meanwhile, the foreign office repeatedly stated that no funds are transferred directly to the Taliban (under UN sanctions for terrorism), being allocated to humanitarian organizations that operate in the country.
On Thursday, UK Ambassador to the United Nations James Kariuki stated at the UN Security Council briefing on Afghanistan that the humanitarian situation in the country remains "a matter of deep concern", with over 20 million people, half the population needing urgent assistance, Sputnik reported.
The Taliban's swift ascension to power in Afghanistan occurred in mid-August, triggering an economic disarray and food shortages that push the country to the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of Afghans fled the country fearful of the Taliban, widespread violation of human rights, and the deprivation of women and girls of their freedoms.
According to the UN estimates, around half of the country's population needs humanitarian assistance, twice as many as in 2020, with about 22 million people facing acute food insecurity. The UN predicts that up to 97 per cent of Afghans may slide below the poverty line by the middle of this year, it added.