Gordon Brown: Failing to halt Afghanistan humanitarian crisis will haunt West

Failure to take action to address the problem of helping people in Afghanistan “He will come back to haunt us,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned.

Mr Brown called for billions of dollars in aid to save the country from an economic and social collapse following the Taliban coup and the withdrawal of a US-led deal in August.

Failure to respond could lead to mass exodus from Afghanistan and outrage in the West, “so we must take action for ethical reasons and for our own good,” the former Labor leader said.

We will be scared if the whole world lives in abject poverty

The West “is sleeping in the worst humanitarian crisis today,” Brown said.

In a statement to the Times Red Box, the prime minister called on the people of the world to commit “a greater response to the conspiracy of a united front”.

Brown says more than half of Afghanistan’s population is facing severe hunger, including millions of children at risk of starvation.

He also quoted UN and International Monetary Fund predictions that Afghanistan’s economy would grow by 20 to 30% next year – a number he called “unprecedented”.

“No country in the near future is suffering from ‘global poverty’ as Afghanistan can,” Brown said.

“It is ironic that while all countries are committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – freeing the world from extreme poverty in the next ten years – almost every Afghan citizen will be condemned by this tragedy.

“Instead of total poverty in any country, we will live in fear as a whole country living in extreme poverty.”

Brown said the effects of the poverty crisis in Afghanistan could be felt far and wide in Europe as thousands of Afghans face the choice of starvation or emigration.

He called for a $ 4.5 billion (£ 3.3 billion) global aid plan from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which could provide assistance to the 22 million Afghan people most at risk.

“It has cost billions of Americans to go to war in Afghanistan,” he said.

The foretold calamity would not be the worst of all.

In a program on BBC Radio 4’s Today, Mr Brown said his flight to Afghanistan – which saw US and UK troops trying to evacuate Kabul – marked the end of the notion that allies could “force Westerners to be free” in neighboring countries. the world.

But he said it should not introduce isolationist policies: “What it does not do is take away the responsibility of each of us to understand that we are in a cohesive and interconnected world where we are all affected by the choices made in other countries and are affected. hunger.

Otherwise, not only for morals but also for selfish reasons, this will not go back in our minds. ”

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