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Statement by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas before his flight to Geneva

13.09.2021 - Press release

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (13 September) before his departure for Geneva:

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan will be the focus of my talks in Geneva today. Decades of conflict and drought have crippled the country, with the most recent fighting and upheaval exacerbating the situation of the population dramatically. Almost half of all Afghans are already dependent on humanitarian assistance. With winter approaching there is a danger that the situation will become even worse. The high number of internally displaced persons is a further factor. In short, the need is great, and the pressure to act even greater.

The high‑level donor conference, to which United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres issued an invitation in Geneva today, therefore comes at exactly the right time. It is now down to us as the international community to assume responsibility for the people in Afghanistan and to provide humanitarian assistance where it is so urgently needed. That depends on whether the humanitarian organisations in Afghanistan are given the necessary access and on the members of the organisations not having to fear intimidation, arbitrary action and obstruction by the Taliban.

Germany has already responded to the humanitarian emergency and made available funds that are being used to provide humanitarian assistance such as food so that it reaches Afghans directly and exclusively.

In this context we are cooperating closely with partners such as the World Food Programme and the UN Refugee Agency and intend to continue our engagement. Today, I will also discuss with Secretary‑General Guterres and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, how and where our support can be most effective in cooperation with the international organisations. However, one thing is clear: engagement in Afghanistan that goes beyond mere emergency measures is still not on the agenda. Only the conduct of the Taliban will determine whether it will be possible to adapt this policy in future. We have formulated our expectations in this area clearly and unmistakeably.

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