To prevent a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, the G20 countries have no choice but to talk with the Taliban. However, this does not mean that they recognise the Taliban as a legitimate government.
“It’s hard to imagine how we can help the people of Afghanistan without involving the Taliban,” said Mario Draghi, Italy’s prime minister and current G20 president, after a special video conference on Afghanistan. At the summit, the G20 decided leaders that the United Nations would coordinate humanitarian aid for Afghanistan and its neighbours and that contact with the Taliban is necessary.
According to Draghi, political recognition of the Taliban is still a long way off. However, the G20 countries agree that the Afghan rulers must recognise human rights, especially women’s rights and that the country must not become a safe haven for terrorist organisations. “The Taliban are judged by what they do, not what they say,” said the Italian prime minister, pointing to women’s education and an inclusive government.
Several international organisations have warned of a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan. With the fall of Kabul, the Afghan economy almost came to a standstill. Foreign aid, on which the country is highly dependent, also dried up. According to UN chief António Guterres, there are serious shortages of medicines and food. He called the current situation critical and said something must be done now.
It was the first time since the withdrawal of US troops that the G20 met to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. At the start of the summit, the European Union announced an additional EUR 700 million in emergency aid. Together with the previously mobilised 300 million, EU aid to Afghanistan and its neighbours comes to 1 billion. “The Afghan people should not pay the toll for the acts of the Taliban,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Until now, political leaders have been divided on how to deal with the crisis in Afghanistan. Some countries see humanitarian aid and political recognition as a means of putting pressure on the Taliban. But, like von der Leyen, other countries emphasise that the Afghan population should not be collectively punished by not offering them help. The G20 now seems to have found a tentative compromise.