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US Congress expected to finance the UN’s humanitarian work in Afghanistan

The UN has warned 18 million Afghans are facing a humanitarian disaster (RADIO FREE EUROPE)

WASHINGTON (Reuters): The US Congress is expected to finance the United Nation’s humanitarian work in Afghanistan but is unlikely to directly fund a new Taliban-led government, according to US officials.

UN chief Antonio Guterres is travelling to Geneva to convene a high-level conference on aid for Afghanistan on September 13. Since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the US had set aside an estimated $130bn for security, governance, and development, and humanitarian needs in Afghanistan.

Congressional aides told the Reuters news agency that lawmakers were nearly certain to provide humanitarian aid for internally displaced Afghans and refugees, but not to the government itself, at least for now. Even before the Taliban victory, Afghanistan was heavily aid-dependent – with 40 percent of the country’s GDP drawn from foreign funding.

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The UN has warned 18 million Afghans are facing a humanitarian disaster, and another 18 million could quickly join them. According to reports, as many as 500,000 could also flee the country for fear of the Taliban.

The Taliban has yet to form a new government, but there have been reports that an announcement is imminent. Meanwhile, fighting continues between the Taliban and resistance fighters in Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, raising fears of more civilians being displaced.