Foreign Affairs

The humanitarian crisis is in the spotlight as Italy hosts the G20 Afghan summit

G20 Afghan summit

On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will host a special summit of the Group of 20 major economies to discuss Afghanistan, as fears of a humanitarian disaster grow in the aftermath of the Taliban’s return to power.

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan on August 15, the country, which was already suffering from drought and severe poverty as a result of decades of war, has seen its economy all but collapse, raising the prospect of a refugee exodus.

The video conference, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. (1100 GMT), will focus on aid needs, security concerns, and ways to ensure safe passage abroad for thousands of Western-allied Afghans who remain in the country.

“With winter approaching, it is critical to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable groups, particularly women and children,” said a G20 official familiar with the agenda. The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, is expected to attend the summit, emphasising the UN’s central role in addressing the crisis – in part because many countries do not want to establish direct relations with the Taliban.

Italy, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the G20, has worked hard to organise the meeting, despite the disparate group’s widely held views on how to deal with Afghanistan following the chaotic US withdrawal from Kabul.

“The main problem is that Western countries want to put their finger on the way the Taliban run the country, how they treat women for example, while China and Russia on the other hand have a non-interference foreign policy,” said a diplomatic source close to the matter.

China has publicly demanded that Afghanistan’s economic sanctions be lifted and that billions of dollars in Afghan international assets be unfrozen and returned to Kabul. It was unclear whether or not this would be discussed on Tuesday.

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By TIS Staffer
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