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Germany temporarily halts development aid for Afghanistan

It will also extend help to those in Afghanistan who are at risk, including “many courageous women”, said Steinmeier, who was previously foreign minister…reports Asian Lite News.

Germany on Tuesday temporarily halted development aid for war-torn Afghanistan. The country’s development minister said work was underway to evacuate all those individuals from Afghanistan, including local development officials and NGO workers, who want to leave following the Taliban’s swift return to power.

“State cooperation on development is suspended for the time being. We are working at a pace to evacuate from Afghanistan, those local development officials and NGO workers who want to leave,” Development Minister Gerd Mueller said in an interview with the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Earlier in the day, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said chaotic scenes at Kabul airport where thousands of desperate Afghans gathered to flee the country were shameful for the “political West”.

Calling the Afghanistan crisis a “human tragedy for which we share responsibility”. Steinmeier said Germany is duty-bound to “do everything it can to bring our people, and all Afghans who stood for years by their side, to safety”.

It will also extend help to those in Afghanistan who are at risk, including “many courageous women”, said Steinmeier, who was previously foreign minister.

“The failure of the years-long efforts to build a stable and viable society in Afghanistan raises fundamental questions for the past and future of our foreign policy and military engagement,” he said.

German forces were deployed for almost two decades in Afghanistan as part of the US-led NATO operation.

The 150,000 men and women sent by Germany at various points over the years made it the second biggest contributor of NATO troops there, after the United States.

Germany withdrew its last troops at the end of June following Washington’s decision to leave the country.

Taliban’s take over ‘terrible’, says Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday described the Taliban’s Afghanistan takeover as “bitter, dramatic and terrible”, a media report said.

During a televised news conference on Monday, Angela Merkel said, “This is a particularly bitter development. Bitter, dramatic and terrible…it is terrible for the millions of Afghans who have worked for the freedom of a society,” CNN reported.

“We need to make sure that the many people who have big worries and concerns have a secure stay in countries neighbouring Afghanistan. We should not repeat the mistakes of the past when we did not give enough funds to UNHCR and other aid programs, and people left Jordan and Lebanon toward Europe,” CNN quoted her as saying.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, on Saturday said that it’s alarmed by the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The refugee agency expressed its concerns about the impact of the conflict in Afghanistan on women and girls.

Some 80 percent of nearly a quarter of a million Afghans forced to flee since the end of May are women and children.

Nearly 4,00,000 were forced from their homes since the beginning of the year, joining 2.9 million Afghans already internally displaced across the country at the end of 2020, the UNHCR added.

The Taliban on Sunday took control of the presidential palace in Kabul soon after Asharaf Ghani fled Afghanistan.

On Monday, Biden put the blame for the current situation on the Afghan leaders, saying they gave up and fled the country so the military collapsed.

“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years I have learned the hard way that there was no good time to withdraw US forces and that’s why we are still there,” he said.

“We were clear-eyed about the risk. We planned for every contingency that this did unfold more quickly than we anticipated. Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country so the military collapsed,” he added.

We will have to talk with Taliban: EU foreign policy chief

The European Union (EU) foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell has said there are many lessons to be learned over Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover, adding that the EU will have to talk with the Taliban as it has won the war.

“The Taliban have won the war, so we will have to talk with them,” Borrell said after an emergency video conference of EU foreign ministers on Tuesday afternoon, adding that this does not mean moving quickly to officially recognize the Taliban’s government, Xinhua reported.

“I just said that we have to talk with them about everything, even to try to protect women and girls. Even for that, you have to get in touch with them,” Borrell said.

“We have to get in touch with the authorities in Kabul, whatever they are,” Borrell noted, “in order to engage in a dialogue, as soon as necessary, to prevent a humanitarian and a potential migratory disaster.”

Borrell added that any cooperation by the EU with the new government of Afghanistan “will be conditioned on a peaceful and inclusive settlement and respect for the fundamental rights of all Afghans, including women, youth and persons belonging to minorities,” as well as respect for other commitments such as fighting against corruption and preventing the use of Afghan territory by terrorists.

He said the new reality in Afghanistan comes 20 years after the beginning of the military operation launched by the United States with the support of NATO in October 2001. The original military and political commitment, which is to destroy the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, shifted to the nation-building of a modern state in Afghanistan.

“The first part of the mission succeeded, and the second did not,” he said.

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