Half of Afghans need humanitarian aid as violence rises: EU commissioner

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič in Kabul on 3 February 2020. [Europe by Satellite]

Half of Afghans need humanitarian aid but rising violence is preventing deliveries, a senior European Union humanitarian official said on Wednesday (3 February), reiterating calls for a ceasefire between the Afghan government and the insurgent Taliban.

The European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič visited Kabul to announce the EU will provide €32 million for humanitarian projects in 2021.

“Increasing violence and conflict is the main cause for the humanitarian need in this country,” he said. “We very much hope and call for an immediate, unconditional and comprehensive ceasefire.”

Violence has risen in the war-torn nation, dashing hopes that a US-brokered peace process in Doha would reduce conflict while the Afghan government and the Taliban negotiated a political settlement.

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to pursue peace talks

Afghan government and Taliban representatives said on Wednesday (2 December) they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war and welcomed by the United Nations and Washington.

Even during the usually subdued winter months, fighting has taken place around the country along with a wave of assassinations of government officials and civil society members.

On Wednesday a blast in Kabul killed a police officer, and unknown attackers killed a religious leader in the southern city of Kandahar and a judge in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Lenarčič called on the government and the Taliban “to understand that allowing for full and unimpeded humanitarian access is their obligation under humanitarian law.”

Lenarčič said that the amount of the EU’s humanitarian aid could rise. Those funds are separate from the $12 billion over the next four years that foreign donors including the EU pledged in November.

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