UN: Afghanistan’s economy on brink of collapse

Meanwhile, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said his office will probe allegations that former Afghan President Ghani took millions of dollars with him when he left the country.

An Afghan woman begs at a market in Kabul’s Old City, Afghanistan, on September 14, 2021. (AP)

Afghanistan’s health system is failing and the economy is on the brink of collapse, the country’s director for the World Food Progamme (WFP) has warned.

Mary-Ellen McGroarty said donor pledges and commitments “must urgently be turned into reality” before it is too late.

“Afghanistan is on borrowed time,” McGroarty said in a video conference on Wednesday from the Afghan capital, Kabul.

“I’ve never before seen a crisis unfold at this pace and scale.”

She also warned that the rights of women, girls and minorities are also under threat.

In addition to decades of conflict and displacement, Afghanistan has suffered chronic poverty, severe drought and currently the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the UN.

“We are witnessing a new depth of destitution as the drought and the economic crisis drives up food and fuel prices,” said McGroarty, who noted Afghan families “desperately” need support as colder weather approaches.

Nearly half the population, more than 18 million people, require aid assistance to survive, while conflict and insecurity have displaced more than 3.5 million, with nearly 700,000 uprooted this year alone, said the UN.

In mid-August, the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in parallel with a US troop withdrawal from the country. And in September, the Taliban announced an interim government to administer Afghanistan affairs.

READ MORE: How the Taliban governs itself

US watchdog probes if Ghani took money

John Sopko, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said on Wednesday his office would look into allegations that former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took millions of dollars with him when he left the country.

Ghani has said he left Kabul to prevent bloodshed and denied reports he took large sums of money with him.

But speculation has persisted, and Congress asked Sopko’s team to get to the bottom of it.

“We haven’t proven that yet. We’re looking into that. Actually, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked us to look into that,” Sopko told a House of Representatives subcommittee.

Ghani has been bitterly criticised for fleeing as the Taliban reached the outskirts of Kabul in August.

Sopko’s Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has long been investigating fraud, waste and abuse during America’s massive state-building effort, which came to an ignoble end after 20 years with the Taliban takeover.

Daesh members captured near Kabul

Taliban forces raided an area west of Kabul and captured four members of a Daesh cell, the group’s main spokesman has said.

The raid, in Paghman district just outside the Afghan capital, followed a bomb attack on a mosque on Sunday claimed by Daesh, which has mounted a series of operations since the Taliban seized power in Kabul in August.

As well as the four prisoners, the raid yielded quantities of weapons and documents, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

Earlier on Wednesday, Daesh said on one of its Telegram channels that it had captured and beheaded a member of a Taliban force in the eastern city of Jalalabad, where there have been several incidents involving the group in recent days.

It was not clear whether there was any direct connection between the incidents in Jalalabad and Paghman.

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