A Taliban fighter stands guard as people receive food rations in Kabul, Afghanistan. File/AP
Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council that Afghanistan faces multiple crises â€” humanitarian, economic, climate, hunger and financial.
Conflict, poverty, climate shocks and food insecurity "have long been a sad realityâ€ in Afghanistan, but he said what makes the current situation "so criticalâ€ is the halt to large-scale development aid since the Taliban takeover a year ago.
More than half the Afghan population â€” some 24 million people â€” need assistance and close to 19 million are facing acute levels of food insecurity, Griffiths said. And "we worryâ€ that the figures will soon become worse because winter weather will send already high fuel and food prices skyrocketing.
Martin Griffiths speaks during an interview at UN headquarters. AP
Despite the challenges, he said UN agencies and their NGO partners have mounted "an unprecedented response" over the past year, reaching almost 23 million people.
But he said $614 million is urgently required to prepare for winter including repairing and upgrading shelters and providing warm clothes and blankets -- and an additional $154 million is needed to preposition food and other supplies before the weather cuts access to certain areas.
Griffiths stressed, however, that "humanitarian aid will never be able to replace the provision of system-wide services to 40 million people across the country.â€
The Taliban "have no budget to invest in their own future,â€ he said, and "itâ€™s clear that some development support needs to be started.â€
A family eats lunch in their home near Kabul, Afghanistan. File/AP
With more than 70 per cent of Afghanâ€™s living in rural areas, Griffiths warned that if agriculture and livestock production arenâ€™t protected "millions of lives and livelihoods will be risked, and the countryâ€™s capacity to produce food imperiled.â€
He said the countryâ€™s banking and liquidity crisis, and the extreme difficulty of international financial transactions must also be tackled.
"The consequences of inaction on both the humanitarian and development fronts will be catastrophic and difficult to reverse,â€ Griffiths warned.