Global lender's engagement with Taliban-led Afghanistan remains suspended, says IMF spokesman Gerry Rice, which means IMF funding is on hold.

Men are pictured as Afghanistan's central bank seizes a large amount of money in cash and gold from former top government officials, in Afghanistan, in this handout on September 15, 2021.
Men are pictured as Afghanistan's central bank seizes a large amount of money in cash and gold from former top government officials, in Afghanistan, in this handout on September 15, 2021. (Reuters)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it is deeply concerned with the economic situation facing Afghanistan and warned of a "looming humanitarian crisis" facing the country after last month's takeover by the Taliban.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said the global lender's engagement with Afghanistan remains suspended, which means IMF funding is on hold.

He said the immediate focus should be on helping the Afghan people by allowing the flow of remittances and small-scale transfers and providing aid to countries hosting Afghan refugees.

READ MORE: UN discusses unhindered aid delivery to Afghanistan with Taliban

Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought but the situation has deteriorated since the Taliban took over last month with the disruption of aid, the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers, and the collapse of much economic activity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans were facing "perhaps their most perilous hour".

READ MORE: UN seeks safe passage for aid workers in Afghanistan

UN refugee chief warns of 'greater suffering'  

"The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan remains desperate," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement after a three-day visit to the South Asian nation.

"If public services and the economic collapse, we will see even greater suffering, instability, and displacement both within and outside the country," he added in Wednesday's statement.

"The international community must therefore engage with Afghanistan – and quickly – in order to prevent a much bigger humanitarian crisis that will have not only regional but global implications."

Even before the Taliban took over last month, Grandi said, more than 18 million Afghans, or about half the population, required humanitarian aid.

READ MORE: Russia's Central Asian allies say they won't host fleeing Afghan refugees

Millions displaced 

More than 3.5 million Afghans were already displaced in a country that is battling drought and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Poverty and hunger have spiralled since the Taliban takeover, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans are facing "perhaps their most perilous hour".

Donors at the conference pledged more than $1.1 billion to help Afghanistan. 

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies