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U.S. Earmarks An Extra $308 Million In Aid To Afghanistan As UN Appeals For Urgent Assistance

The UN's International Organization for Migration started distributing cash assistance to 400 poor and internally displaced families on December 25 in Khost Province.

The United States will donate an additional $308 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the White House announced on January 11, bringing the total U.S. aid for the war-wracked country to nearly $782 million since October.

The announcement came the same day as an appeal by the United Nations for $5 billion in aid for Afghanistan this year to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

The extra assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will be distributed through independent humanitarian organizations and will provide shelter, health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services, White House spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement.

Horne also said Washington is giving 1 million additional coronavirus vaccine doses to Afghanistan, bringing the total to 4.3 million doses.

"The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people and we continue to consider all options available to us. We stand with the people of Afghanistan," Horne said.

Afghanistan's economy has been in free fall since the Taliban seized power in August after toppling the former Western-backed government amid the withdrawal of the U.S.-led forces from the country following a 20-year occupation.

The UN, in its largest-ever single-country appeal, said on January 11 that $4.4 billion was needed within Afghanistan, while a further $623 million was required to support the millions of Afghans sheltering beyond its borders.

"A full-blown humanitarian catastrophe looms. My message is urgent: Don't shut the door on the people of Afghanistan," said UN aid chief Martin Griffiths.

According to the world body, up to 23 million people, or 55 percent of Afghanistan's population -- are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine as winter takes hold.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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