Red Cross' Director General Robert Mardini called for support from the international community, which has so far taken a cautious approach in engaging with the Taliban.

At least 30 percent of Afghanistan's 39 million population face severe malnutrition and 18 million people in the country need humanitarian assistance or protection, says ICRC.
At least 30 percent of Afghanistan's 39 million population face severe malnutrition and 18 million people in the country need humanitarian assistance or protection, says ICRC. (Reuters)

The Red Cross has warned that aid groups on their own would be unable to stave off a humanitarian crisis, urging the international community to engage with Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers.

The International Committee of the Red Cross's Director General Robert Mardini told Reuters on Friday that support from the international community, who had so far taken a cautious approach in engaging with the Taliban, was critical to providing basic services.

"Humanitarian organisations joining forces can only do so much. They can come up with temporary solutions," he said.

Mardini said 30 percent of Afghanistan's 39 million population were facing severe malnutrition and that 18 million people in the country need humanitarian assistance or protection.

"Afghanistan is a compounded crisis that is deteriorating by the day," he added, citing decades of conflict compounded by the effects of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: UN fund to help poverty hit Afghans endure winter without mass displacement

Increased efforts not enough

ICRC has increased its efforts in the country while other organisations were also stepping up, Mardini said.

However, Mardini said "no humanitarian organisation can compensate or replace the economy of a country."

The United Nations on Thursday announced it had set up a fund to provide cash directly to Afghans, which Mardini said would solve the problem for three months.

Afghanistan has been plunged into crisis by the abrupt end of billions of dollars in foreign assistance following the collapse of the Western-backed government and return to power by the Taliban in August.

The Taliban expelled many foreign aid groups when it was last in power from 1996-2001 but this time has said it welcomes foreign donors and will protect the rights of their staff.

But the group, facing criticism it has failed to protect rights, including access to education for girls, have also said aid should not be tied to conditions.

READ MORE: Hunger and cold threaten Afghanistan as aid agencies begin helping out

Source: Reuters