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

Hameed Farzad
·1 min read
An internally displaced Afghan man walks next to his shelter on the outskirts of Kabul

By Hameed Farzad

KABUL (Reuters) - Half of Afghans need humanitarian aid but rising violence is preventing deliveries, a senior European Union humanitarian official said on Wednesday, 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 euros ($38.5 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 U.S.-brokered peace process in Doha would reduce conflict while the Afghan government and the Taliban negotiated a political settlement.

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.

($1 = 0.8321 euros)

(Reporting by Hameed Farzad; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)