The UN is convening an aid conference in Geneva today (Monday) in an attempt to boost quite $600 million for Afghanistan, warning of a humanitarian crisis there following the Taliban takeover.

Even before the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul last month, half the population — or 18 million people — was hooked in to aid. That figure looks set to extend thanks to drought and shortages of money and food, UN officials and aid groups warn.

An abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign donations following the collapse of Afghanistan’s Western-backed government and therefore the ensuing victory of the Taliban has heaped more pressure on UN programmes.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says his organisation is struggling financially: “At this moment, the UN isn’t even ready to pay its salaries to its own workers,” he told reporters on Friday.

The Geneva conference, thanks to beginning today, are going to be attended by top UN officials including Guterres, the top of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, also as dozens of state representatives including German secretary of state Heiko Maas.

About a third of the $606 million being sought would be employed by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which found that 93 per cent of the 1,600 Afghans it surveyed in August and September weren’t consuming sufficient foods, mostly because they might not get access to cash to buy it.

“It’s now a race against the clock and therefore the snow to deliver life-saving assistance to the Afghan people that need it most,” said WFP deputy regional director Anthea Webb. “We are quite literally begging and borrowing to avoid food stocks running out.”

The World Health Organisation, another United Nations agency that’s a part of the appeal, is seeking to prop up many health facilities in danger of closure after donors backed out.

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