UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. humanitarian chief says $1.2 billion has been promised to help Afghans facing a growing humanitarian crisis in the country and millions in the region, calling the pledges “an important step” toward helping the needy.
Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths announced the total in pledges at the closing of a high-level ministerial meeting in Geneva on Monday that was seeking $606 million until the end of the year to help 11 million people.
Griffiths says the $1.2 billion includes funding for that appeal as well as the regional response to the Afghan crisis, which U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi spoke about from Kabul.
Griffiths is urging donors to turn the pledges into cash contributions as fast as possible, saying that “the funding will throw a lifeline to Afghans” who lack food, health care and protection.
He says the meeting showed solidarity with the Afghan people but adds that “Afghanistan faces a long and hard road ahead” and this “is far from the end of the journey.”
MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:
— UN seeks $606 million for Afghanistan after Taliban takeover
— Taliban: Women can study in gender-segregated universities
— Kabul flag shop that started in Soviet era retools yet again
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says all flights of Afghan evacuees into the United States have been halted for another seven days. That’s at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, due to measles cases at three different U.S. bases.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that three cases of measles were diagnosed among Afghans arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, one at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and one at Fort Pickett in Virginia.
The U.S. initially halted the U.S.-bound flights on Friday when the measles cases were first discovered.
Kirby said the seven-day extension of the pause in flights begins Monday and that all efforts are being made to do contact tracing to determine who at any of the bases may have been exposed. He said patients are being housed separately and are getting medical care.
Kirby said all evacuees are receiving any necessary immunizations — including for measles — when they arrive in the U.S. He said they soon will be getting the immunizations at bases in Europe and the Middle East where evacuees are held prior to their flights to the U.S.
The seven-day extension further complicates what has already been a difficult and frustrating process for evacuees fleeing Afghanistan and trying to get to the U.S. As many as 10,000 evacuees are at a temporary processing site at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where there is a 10-day limit on their stay in the country.
GENEVA — The U.N. human rights chief says her office has received credible allegations of reprisal killings by the Taliban of former Afghan security forces, as well as instances in which officials in the previous government and their relatives were arbitrarily detained and later turned up dead.
Michelle Bachelet, speaking on Monday to the Human Rights Council, warned of a “new and perilous phase” for Afghanistan as she criticized the Taliban for a disconnect between their words and actions.
She cited “multiple” allegations of Taliban house-to-house searches looking for officials from the previous government and “people who cooperated with U.S. security forces and companies.”
Such searches took place in at least a half-dozen cities, Bachelet said. U.N. staffers have also reported increasing attacks and threats, she added, without providing specifics.
“My office has received credible allegations of reprisal killings of a number of former ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) personnel, and reports of officials, who worked for previous administrations and their family members being arbitrarily detained,” she said. “In some cases, the officials were released, and in others, they were found dead.”
Bachelet also highlighted “deeply troubling information” about Taliban raids on offices of some advocacy groups.
“In contradiction to assurances that the Taliban would uphold women’s rights, over the past three weeks women have instead been progressively excluded from the public sphere,” she told the 47-member council as it opened its autumn session.
She said girls aged over 12 have been barred from attending school in some places in Afghanistan, and “Women’s Affairs” departments had been at times dismantled.
MADRID — Spain’s Foreign Ministry says the country will make a 20 million euro ($23.6 million) contribution to humanitarian efforts to assist Afghans, with nearly a third of it to be spent this year.
Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares announced Spain’s donation at a U.N.-sponsored donor conference on Afghanistan taking place in Geneva on Monday.
Albares said that the goal should be “to avert the drama of a humanitarian crisis of great proportions,” according to a statement by his ministry.
The donors conference is designed to drum up emergency funds for beleaguered Afghans who could soon face widespread hunger after decades of conflict.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark said at the Geneva donor conference on Afghanistan it is giving 240 million more kroner ($38.1 million) to the ailing country.
Meanwhile, neighboring Norway pledged Monday an extra 100 million kroner ($11.5 million) to be sent via different organizations of the United Nations and the International Red Cross, among others.
“More than 18 million people in Afghanistan now need protection and life-saving assistance. Half of all children are at risk of acute malnutrition,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide.
In Denmark, Foreign Aid Minister Flemming Moeller Mortensen called the situation in Afghanistan “heartbreaking” and “the situation only looks seems to worsen in the coming months as the winter approaches.”
The Danish money also would be channeled through U.N. agencies and Danish organizations working in the region.
The United Nations hosted a donors conference to drum up emergency funds for beleaguered Afghans who could soon face widespread hunger after decades of conflict.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — France’s foreign minister has expressed disappointment in Afghanistan’s newly formed Taliban government, saying the group so far has failed to live up to its promises of offering a more moderate and inclusive style of leadership.
Speaking alongside his Qatari counterpart during a visit to Doha on Monday, Jean-Yves Le Drian says “the response we have seen from Kabul so far is not up to our expectations.”
Le Drian said France and the rest of the international community will continue pressing the Taliban not to harbor terrorists, to allow the secure delivery of humanitarian aid and to protect the rights of women, among other demands.
“We have heard the statements made (by the Taliban), though we are waiting for actions,” Le Drian told reporters. “Words are not enough.”
Qatar, a tiny Gulf Arab state that has hosted a Taliban office in its capital for years and played an outsized role in the evacuation of U.S. and foreign forces from Afghanistan, sent a high-level diplomatic delegation to the country on Sunday.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Qatari officials used those discussions to “encourage the Taliban to engage with the international community” and avoid isolation by preserving the hard-won gains of Afghan people, particularly women, over the years.