Taliban leader calls for help in first Afghan address | News | DW | 27.11.2021

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Taliban leader calls for help in first Afghan address

The Taliban government leader asked for international aid and access to about $10 billion in funds frozen after the insurgents took over the country in August. The UN is warning half the country could starve this winter.

Taliban Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund (center) heads a high-level meeting between Afghani officials and Qatari officials at the presidential palace, in Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund gave his first speech to the Afghan people

The man appointed as prime minister of Afghanistan by the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Hassan Akhund, called on international charities on Saturday "to not withhold their aid" as the country struggles with the threat of mass starvation.

Speaking in his first TV address since taking over the country in August, he promised the government would "not interfere" in other countries' internal affairs ahead of meetings with the United States in Doha.

Blames deposed government for current woes

"We are trying as much as possible to solve the problems of the people. We are working overtime in every department," said Akhund In a half hour audio message

He blamed Afghanistan's famine, unemployment and financial meltdown on the US-backed government he helped depose.

"Nation, be vigilant. Those left over from the previous government in hiding are ... causing anxiety, misleading the people to distrust their government," Akhund said.

Hawa, 20, a third-year Russian literature student at the Burhanuddin Rabbani University (which was renamed by the Taliban to Kabul Education University), reads a book as she sits on a windowsill at her home in Kabul, Afghanistan

Women like Hawa, pictured in her home, are not allowed to leave their home under Taliban rules

The prime minister claimed that his government had cracked down on corruption that had afflicted what he called "the weakest system in the world." It was also working on ways to pay thousands of government workers who have not been paid for months, he said.

"We ask all the international charity organisations to not withhold their aid and to help our exhausted nation ... so that the problems of the people could be solved," Hassan said in his speech.

He also called on the US to unlock about $10 billion (€8.8 billion) of Aghan funds frozen after the Taliban defeated the previous administration in mid-August.

How serious are Afghanistan's problems?

United Nations aid agencies say that about half the country is facing starvation as one of the worst famines in decades and economic collapse made many Afghans desperate for food. Residents are selling many of their possessions and even their children just to put a meal on the table,

Akhund called the famine "a test from God, after people rebelled against him."

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The US and other countries refuse to acknowledge the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, ending aid that amounted to about 75% of the economy. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund also put an end to international loans.

Western countries have pledged to keep up their economic blockade of Afghanistan's new rulers until the Taliban creates an inclusive government and recognizes women's rights.

Akhund claims his newly installed Islamic Emirate has members from all over the country and his exclusion of women from work and girls from school "has saved women's dignity."

jc/aw (AFP, dpa, AP)