Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will host a special summit of the Group of 20 major economies on Tuesday (Oct 12) to discuss Afghanistan, as worries grow about a looming humanitarian disaster following the Taliban's return to power.
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan on Aug 15, the country - already struggling with drought and severe poverty after decades of war - has seen its economy all but collapse, raising the spectre of an exodus of refugees. The video conference, which is due to start at 1pm local time, will focus on aid needs, concerns over security and ways of guaranteeing safe passage abroad. for thousands of Western-allied Afghans still in the country.
"Providing humanitarian support is urgent for the most vulnerable groups, especially women and children, with winter arriving," said an official with knowledge of the G20 agenda.The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is due to join the summit, underlining the central role given to the United Nations in tackling the crisis - in part because many countries do not want to establish direct relations with the Taliban.
Italy, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20, has worked hard to set up the meeting in the face of highly divergent views within the disparate group on how to deal with Afghanistan after the chaotic US withdrawal from Kabul."The main problem is that Western countries want to put their finger on the way the Taliban run the country, how they treat women for example, while China and Russia on the other hand have a non-interference foreign policy," said a diplomatic source close to the matter.