Britain said Tuesday it will co-host a virtual UN summit aimed at raising $4.4 billion to alleviate a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power.
With the fundamentalist regime now denied access to Western funds, the United Nations says more than 24 million Afghans need urgent help to survive, and half the population is facing acute hunger.
The UN said last month that $4.4 billion was needed, as it launched its largest appeal yet for a single country.
Donor countries, UN agencies and Afghan civil society are set to take part in the online event next month, the UK government and UN said in a joint statement, without giving a date.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the summit would focus on delivering food, shelter and health services, particularly for women and girls who are once again shut out of public life under the Taliban.
“The conference is a critical moment for the international community to step up support in an effort to stop the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan,” Truss said.
“The scale of need is unparallelled, and consequences of inaction will be devastating. The UK is determined to lead the global effort,” she added.
Britain says it has committed £286 million ($390 million, 340 million euros) to support Afghans in the past year, including an emergency donation of £97 million last month, and UK diplomats visited Kabul last week for talks with the Taliban regime.
The funds are being channelled through “trusted UN agencies” and charities on the ground, rather than directly to the Taliban, the UK government said.
However, the government has faced criticism for slashing its aid budget overall, including for Afghanistan.
Martin Griffiths, the UN’s deputy chief for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, urged other donors to step up “to save the lives and futures of Afghans”.
“Every day of delay means more misery for the Afghan people. They need a lifeline,” the British UN official said.