The US has Been Seen Funding Humanitarian Help in Afghanistan, but not the Taliban

As the Taliban prepares to form a new government, the UN will convene a high-level meeting to discuss aid amid concerns of a humanitarian crisis.

According to US sources, the US Congress is likely to pay the UN’s humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan, but is unlikely to directly fund a new Taliban-led government as the world body prepares to discuss aid for the war-torn country.

On September 13, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to Geneva to convene a high-level summit on Afghanistan aid.

The US has set aside an estimated $130 billion for security, governance, development, and humanitarian needs in Afghanistan since the 2001 war.

According to Reuters, congressional aides are almost certain to send humanitarian help to internally displaced Afghans and refugees, but not to the government itself, at least for the time being.

Even before the Taliban’s takeover, Afghanistan was significantly reliant on international aid, with foreign aid accounting for 40% of the country’s GDP.

The United Nations has warned that 18 million Afghans are suffering a humanitarian crisis, with another 18 million on the way. According to statistics, up to 500,000 people may escape the country because they are afraid of the Taliban.

The Taliban has yet to form a government, but there have been reports that an announcement is imminent.

Meanwhile, fighting continues between the Taliban and resistance fighters in Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, raising fears of more civilians being displaced.

UN to convene Afghanistan aid conference on September 13

The United Nations will convene an international aid conference in Geneva on September 13 to help avert what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called a “looming humanitarian catastrophe”.

“We need the international community to stand together and support the Afghan people,” Guterres said in a post on Twitter announcing the conference that he said would seek a swift scale-up in funding for humanitarian relief.

“We also appeal for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to make sure Afghans continue to get the essential services they need,” he said.

Chief of Pakistan’s ISI arrives in Kabul

The chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the nation’s intelligence agency, Faiz Hamid, has arrived in Kabul. Hamid is the first high-ranking foreign official to visit Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. He is accompanied by a delegation of senior Pakistani officials.

Hamid’s arrival on Saturday has raised criticism among Afghans online. Pakistan and the ISI have been accused by many of aiding and abetting the Taliban.

Aerial gunfire takes lives in Kabul

Late Friday evening, approximately at 9pm local time, the Kabul sky was filled with aerial gunfire believed to be celebratory. The exact reasoning for the gunfire remains unclear and several rumors were posted online, but the Taliban offered no official explanation. According to the Emergency Hospital in Kabul, at least 17 people were killed by the aerial fire and another 41 people were injured.

Celebratory gunfire is a common tradition among Afghanistan. On August 31, when the US finally withdrew its forces, the Taliban also unleashed a barrage of gunfire, but quickly offered an explanation.

Meanwhile, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, issued a ban on aerial fire through his Twitter account, saying people should ‘thank God instead’ of firing into the air.

Colourful murals disappearing from streets of Kabul

Murals painted by Afghan artists are slowly disappearing from the streets of Kabul, as the Taliban returned to rule Afghanistan.

Omaid H Sharifi, curator and artist, noted in a social media post that among the murals painted over in recent days was a piece depicting the historic Doha deal that showed US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar.

A BBC report said most of the murals are now being painted over with white paint, with slogans praising Taliban fighters for the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years.

Iran ‘returns’ most of US-made military equipment to Taliban

US-made Afghan military equipment, including armoured vehicles, which crossed into Iranian territory during the advance of the Taliban have been returned to the country’s new rulers.

Amwaj Media, which covers news from the Middle East, quoted an Iranian source as saying that “almost everything” operated by former Afghan army soldiers, who escaped to Iran, were turned over to the Taliban following the US withdrawal.

Images posted on social media in recent weeks showed the US-made vehicles owned by the Afghan military crossing the border into Iran.

Afghan women wary as Taliban rule returns

Many Afghan women in the city of Jalalabad have expressed concerns about the return of Taliban rule in the country, even as the armed group gave assurance that it has changed its ways.

Mushkan Babri, a teacher in Jalalabad, told Al Jazeera’s Osama bin Javaid that while she understands people’s fears, she has decided to stay in the country and study to become a doctor.

Female health workers have also returned to work at the Nangarhar Regional Hospital, even as the Taliban imposed new rules on gender segregation.

“Nearly all the women we have spoken to said that they are nervous about what will happen under the Taliban,” Javaid said, quoting the same women as saying that the Taliban members have been “respectful” since they returned to the city as rulers.

Source: AL JAZEERA

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