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EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell

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Food prices in Afghanistan have risen by more than 50% since the Taliban came to power in August (File)

Brussels:

The European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Sunday that Afghanistan was facing a breakdown in its economic and social system, which risks turning into a humanitarian disaster.

Josep Borrell wrote in a blog post that to avoid a worst-case scenario, the Taliban would have to adhere to conditions that would enable more international aid.

“Afghanistan is facing a serious humanitarian crisis and a socio-economic collapse that will be dangerous for Afghans, the region and international security,” Borrell wrote.

Food prices in the country have risen by more than 50% since the Taliban came to power in August as Afghanistan’s $9 billion in assets held in foreign central bank reserves froze and the withdrawal of foreign income. Inflation has increased.

According to Borrell, the Afghan banking system is largely paralyzed, with people unable to withdraw money, while the country’s health system – which relied heavily on foreign aid – is close to collapsing.

“If the situation continues and with the coming of winter, it turns into a humanitarian catastrophe,” he wrote, adding that it could trigger mass migration to neighboring states.

The 27-nation European Union has increased its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power but halted its development aid – a move also taken by other countries and the World Bank.

The EU’s response to the crisis will depend on the behavior of the new Afghan officials, Borrell said, and resuming relations will require compliance with conditions, including human rights.

“It requires above all that the Taliban take steps so that the international community can help the Afghan people,” she said, adding that women employees of international agencies should be able to do their jobs.

Widespread reports of human rights abuses and boycotts of girls from schools have sparked optimism that the Taliban’s approach has changed since it first struck Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Borrell last week met with Qatari officials in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where the Taliban is represented.

He said Qatar’s contacts with the Taliban were aimed at controlling their behaviour, and urged Doha to use their contacts to ensure a “worst-case scenario” for Afghanistan is avoided.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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