The Taliban on Tuesday thanked the world for pledging hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid to Afghanistan, and urged the United States to show “heart” to the impoverished country.
A donor conference in Geneva on Monday ended with pledges of $1.2 billion in aid for Afghanistan, which was taken over by the hardline Islamist group last month in a lightning offensive that took retreating US troops by surprise.
Amir Khan Muttaqi, the regime’s acting foreign minister, told a press conference the Taliban would spend donor money wisely and use it to alleviate poverty.
“The Islamic Emirate will try its best to deliver this aid to the needy people in a completely transparent manner.”
“America is a big country — they need to have a big heart,” he said.
He said he had held discussions with China’s ambassador on the coronavirus vaccine and other humanitarian causes, with Beijing pledging $15 million that will be available “soon”.
Since the Taliban takeover, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have halted Afghanistan’s access to funding, while the United States has also frozen cash held in its reserves for Kabul.
“It is impossible to provide humanitarian assistance inside Afghanistan without engaging with the de facto authorities,” the UN secretary-general told ministers attending the Geneva talks.
The Taliban have promised a milder form of rule this time around, but have moved swiftly to crush dissent, including firing in the air to disperse recent protests by women calling for the right to education and work.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has repeatedly warned that the Taliban would have to earn legitimacy and support, after talks with allies on how to present a united front.
Meanwhile, Afghans are resorting to selling their household goods to raise money to pay for essentials, and bustling second-hand goods markets have mushroomed in most urban centres.
The demonstrators were from a neighbourhood populated by former Afghan army servicemen — many were widows of servicemen killed in action against the Taliban over the last 20 years, or wives of wounded soldiers.
A crowd mainly made up of men and youths, along with some women — many burqa-clad — took to the streets despite the Taliban ban on unauthorised protests.
Some reporters covering the march said they were harassed and beaten by Taliban guards along the route.
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