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Italy chairs G20 virtual meeting on Afghanistan Italy chairs G20 virtual meeting on Afghanistan  (Filippo Attili)

G20 discusses Afghanistan at special summit

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi hosts a special summit of the Group of 20 major economies on Tuesday to discuss Afghanistan, as concerns grow about a looming humanitarian crisis following the Taliban's return to power.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Drought, poverty, and an economy in freefall: These are some of the main issues people living in Afghanistan are facing.

Since the Taliban took over on August 15 the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is growing, affecting at least 18 million people, or half the country’s population, raising the prospect of an exodus of refugees.

The special summit of the Group of 20 major economies held on Tuesday came just a day after the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres warned that the country is facing a “make or break” moment and urged the world to prevent Afghanistan’s economy from collapsing.

Mr. Guterres joined the virtual meeting, underlining the central role given to the United Nations in tackling the crisis - in part because many countries don't want to establish direct relations with the Taliban.

The summit, which was held by video conference,  focused on aid needs, concerns over security and ways of guaranteeing safe passage abroad for thousands of Western-allied Afghans still in the country.

Tackle humanitarian crisis

Speaking at a press conference following the meeting, Prime Minister Mario Draghi outlined the fruits of Tuesday’s discussions, saying there was undisputed agreement among the participants about the need to tackle Afghanistan's mounting humanitarian crisis and safeguard the position of women in the country.

He also underlined the need to maintain contact with Afghanistan's Taliban government but said this did not mean the Kabul administration will be formally recognized. However, he was keen to stress that Afghanistan could not be allowed to become a haven for international terrorists, adding that there was no sign as yet that the Taliban was improving its human rights record.

The Italian Prime Minister commented that "This was the first multilateral response to the Afghan crisis ... multilateralism is coming back, with difficulty, but it is coming back." 

Mr. Draghi hailed the virtual meeting as a success despite the absence of key leaders such as China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin.

The summit came just days after senior U.S. and Taliban officials met in Qatar for their first face-to-face meeting since the Taliban retook power.

12 October 2021, 17:54