United Nations officials have announced the launch of a US $5 billion funding appeal for Afghanistan, which it hopes will help prevent the collapse of basic services in the country.

The UN has said that since the Taliban takeover last year, around 22 million have been left in need of assistance inside the country, with a further 5.7 million requiring aid outside its borders.

The organization has described the appeal as the largest ever for a single country for humanitarian assistance.

Announcing the appeal in Geneva the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said that $4.4 billion was needed for the response plan in order to pay essential workers, such as health workers, instead of the country’s de facto authorities.

Griffiths called the appeal an “absolutely essential stop-gap measure,” adding that a million children were “potentially suffering severe acute malnutrition.”

He said that without this being funded, there won’t be a future. We need this to be done, otherwise, there will be outflow, there will be suffering.

The UN has said the money will specifically not be used to support the Taliban’s de facto government, insisting instead that it would go directly into the pockets of nurses and health officials in the field.

Speaking during the news conference UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi referenced a need for $623 million in funding, part of the $5 billion total appeals, for 40 organizations attempting to provide shelter, food and basic services for Afghan refugees currently residing in neighbouring countries.

He said that there is a regional dimension to this crisis, represented by the Afghan refugees; but also, Afghans with many other ‘stay’ arrangements in neighbouring countries.

He said the $623 million would go towards resources to support the neighbouring countries.

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