Afghanistan's acting prime minister has called on governments to officially recognize the Taliban-led administration that took over the war-torn country in August as the country is endures a major humanitarian crisis that has pushed millions of people into poverty.
"I ask all governments, especially Islamic countries, that they should start recognition," Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a Taliban co-founder, told a press conference in Kabul on January 19, arguing that the hard-line Islamist group had fulfilled all necessary conditions by restoring peace and security.
He also called for the unfreezing of Afghanistan’s assets held abroad and for an increase of humanitarian assistance as the International Labor Organization (ILO) said in a new report that more than a half million people in the country have lost their jobs since the Taliban takeover.
Job losses may reach 900,000 by mid-2022, which would represent a 14 percent contraction since the militants took power, according to the United Nations agency.
“Economic recovery and a return to stability in the labor market is largely contingent upon the continued support of the international community, which at this point remains unclear, as well as policy decisions of the new administration,” the report said.
Following the Taliban takeover, Western nations led by the United States have frozen billions of dollars worth of Afghan banking assets and cut off development funding that once formed the backbone of Afghanistan's economy.
That led to a major financial crisis, with soaring inflation, unemployment, and cash shortages depriving much of the Afghan population of access to food, water, shelter, and health care.
The international community has since ramped up humanitarian aid, designed to address urgent needs and largely bypass official channels.
But no country has yet officially recognized the country’s new rulers, whom human rights defenders accuse of committing serious violations, particularly over the lack of rights of women to education, employment, and participation in political and social life.
At the Kabul news conference, Akhund appealed for a loosening of restrictions on money into the country, saying “short-term aid is not the solution.”
Afghanistan's acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, said that “what is needed to solve problems in the long run is the implementation of infrastructure projects."
On January 18, the European Union announced it was stepping up support to the Afghan population by launching projects totaling 268.3 million euros ($304 million).
“The projects focus on health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, and education, in particular for women and girls. We are also supporting income-generating activities, food security, and local markets,” Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said in a statement.
The aid is to be channeled through UN agencies working in Afghanistan, the bloc said in a statement.
This story also includes reporting by Radio Azadi correspondents in Afghanistan. Their names are being withheld for their protection.