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U.N. calls for billions more in aid to fix 'collapsing' basic services in Afghanistan

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U.N. calls for billions more in aid to fix 'collapsing' basic services in Afghanistan
Displaced families collect water during winter in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo courtesy Andrew McConnell/UNHCR

Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The United Nations on Tuesday made a fresh push for billions of dollars in new funding to help millions in Afghanistan, more than four months after the Taliban retook the country and American forces left for good.

U.N. agencies and partners called for $5 billion in aid to shore up collapsing basic services in the battle-worn country, which they say are affecting 22 million Afghans and almost 6 million who have left the country.

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Part of the funding, officials said, is for direct pay to health workers in the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said in a statement.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for $623 million to support Afghan refugees in five neighboring countries as part of the Afghanistan Situation Regional Refugee Response Plan.

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The plan involves 40 organizations working in protection, health and nutrition, food security, shelter and non-food items, water and sanitation, education, logistics and telecoms.

Afghan refugees are seen during the evacuation from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26, 2021. File Photo by Hassan Majeed/UPI

"Today we are launching an appeal for $4.4 billion for Afghanistan itself for 2022," Griffiths said in a statement Tuesday.

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"This is the largest ever appeal for a single country for humanitarian assistance and it is three times the amount needed, and actually fundraised in 2021."

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U.N. officials said the new funding is an essential stopgap measure and insisted that the money would go directly to healthcare workers, not the governing Taliban.

The United Nations says it plans to ask for $10 billion in aid next year, as it anticipates that needs will increase, especially if action isn't taken immediately to address issues.

The United States on Tuesday pledged $308 million in aid and 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the U.N.-led COVAX program.

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"This brings total U.S. humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $782 million since October 2021, and we remain the single largest donor of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan," National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement.

"In addition, the United States is providing the people of Afghanistan one million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses through COVAX, bringing our total to 4.3 million doses."

Scenes from the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley deliver remarks about the end of the 20-year military mission in Afghanistan at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., on September 1. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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