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EU Foreign-Policy Chief Says Afghanistan On Brink Socioeconomic Collapse

European Union foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell (file photo)

The European Union's foreign-policy chief has said that Afghanistan is facing a breakdown of its economic and social systems that could harm its population and harm regional security.

"Afghanistan is experiencing a serious humanitarian crisis and a socioeconomic collapse is looming, which would be dangerous for Afghans, the region, and international security," Josep Borrell wrote on his blog.

Borrell met last week with Qatari officials in Doha, where the Taliban has a representation office. He said he discussed how to assess the militant group's actions since retaking control of Afghanistan in August and how to avoid the country's collapse.

He said that avoiding the worst-case scenario would require the Taliban to comply with conditions that would enable more international assistance.

"At the moment, the 'asks' on the Taliban side seem to revolve around recognition, the release of frozen assets, and the lifting of the UN sanctions," Borrell wrote.

"To influence the new leaders, we need some form of road map, setting out our clear benchmarks and expectations and steps to take."

The EU foreign-policy chief also said that it was clear that "we need to have people on the ground in Afghanistan," raising the question of "when and how."

Food prices have jumped sharply since the Taliban took over following the withdrawal of U.S. forces after 20 years of war, and the loss of foreign income has stoked inflation and paralyzed the Afghan banking system.

Borrell said that the health system in Afghanistan is near collapse and warned that if the situation continued into winter it "risks turning into a humanitarian catastrophe" that could trigger mass out-migration to neighboring states.

The European Union has increased its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan since the Taliban took power, but the 27-country bloc has halted its development assistance, as have many other countries and the World Bank.

With reporting by Reuters
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