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Britain Increases Aid Commitment To Afghanistan By $100 Million

Afghans receive food aid distributed by the German government in Kabul. (file photo)

Britain has pledged a further 75 million pounds ($100 million) in aid to Afghanistan to help the country address its humanitarian crisis.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced the aid on December 11, saying the money would help “save lives, protect women and girls, and support stability in the region.”

The additional financial support will bring the United Kingdom's commitment to Afghanistan to 286 million pounds ($380 million) this year. The new funds will be used to provide support for victims of gender-based violence and to fund essential child protection services.

The pledge came after discussions among G7 foreign ministers, who are meeting in England, about what coordinated action can be taken in Afghanistan and how to engage with the Taliban-led government.

Officials said no funds would go directly through the Taliban, which has not been recognized by any country or the UN, but would instead be funneled through the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, the World Food Program (WFP), and other organizations.

David Beasley, executive director of the WFP, said the 34 million pound donation the organization will receive would "help us save many lives."

"What we are seeing on the ground is heart-breaking -- 23 million people are facing severe hunger in a country crippled by drought, conflict, and an economic crisis," he said, according to Britain’s Press Association.

"Women and children are bearing the brunt of this suffering and, as the harsh winter descends, more and more are slipping into malnutrition and starvation each day."

The economic situation in Afghanistan has steadily worsened since the Taliban swept across the country, seizing power in Kabul on August 15. The United States and other donors cut off financial aid as the Western-backed government collapsed and the U.S. military and other international forces withdrew.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian chief, this week warned that Afghanistan's economic collapse was "happening before our eyes" and urged the international community to take action to stop "the free fall" before it leads to more deaths.

The pledge from the U.K. came a day after the World Bank said donors had approved the transfer of $280 million from a frozen trust fund to two aid agencies to help Afghanistan respond to the humanitarian crisis.

The funds will be transferred by the end of the year from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) to two UN programs, UNICEF and the WFP, the World Bank said.

With reporting by the dpa and the Press Association
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