The UN warned of universal poverty by mid-2022 with 97% of the Afghan population currently living below the poverty line.
Qatar and Afghanistan’s acting government on Monday discussed cooperation in numerous fields including education, as Kabul faces a worsening humanitarian situation.
The discussions took place in Doha between Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al Khater and Afghanistan’s acting Deputy Foreign Minister Mawlawi Fazel.
“The meeting discussed aspects of the bilateral cooperation between the two countries, mainly in the fields of education, security, health and humanitarian aid, in addition to a number of issues of common concern,” read a statement by Qatar’s foreign ministry.
The latest meeting came after US officials reportedly met with members of the Taliban in Doha on Saturday for the first time since Washington assassinated Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri.
Two sources with knowledge told CNN that the US was represented by the CIA’s Deputy Director David Cohen and Washington’s State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West.
The interim Afghan government’s delegation was represented by head of intelligence, Abdul Haq Wasiq.
However, no Qatari official commented on the reported meeting.
The US had cancelled previous meetings with the Taliban earlier this year over their decision to ban girls from attending schools. Qatar had expressed “its great concern and disappointment” over the de facto government’s decision at the time.
Doha has continued to host meetings between the international community and the Taliban after the group militarily seized control of Afghanistan on 15 August last year.
At the time, Qatar managed to safely evacuate at least 80,000 Afghans and foreigners in history’s largest airlift of people.
Afghanistan has faced a worsening humanitarian crisis since the Taliban captured control more than one year ago.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), warned of universal poverty by mid-2022 with 97% of the Afghan population currently living below the poverty line.
Afghanistan has witnessed numerous terrorist attacks over the past year, most of which were claimed by the the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K), killing scores of people in the country.
Last year, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 927 civilian deaths and injuries as a result of suicide attacks and bombings.
According to AOAV, Afghanistan was among the worst impacted countries globally by suicide attacks, representing 65% of all casualties recorded. The highest casualties were recorded last year after a deadly bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
Crowds of people were at the airport at the time waiting to flee the country shortly after the Taliban takeover. ISIS-K claimed the attack, killing 149 civilians and injuring 185 others.
Absence of roadmap
The Gulf state has repeatedly stressed the need to avoid isolating the country, calling on the international community to prioritise solutions to help Afghanistan out of its humanitarian crisis.
Speaking to Doha News in New York last month, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Afghanistan will remain a concern in the absence of a clear roadmap for the country’s future.
“We have seen a growing humanitarian crisis over there, an economic crisis, as well as a growing concern on terrorism and terrorist organisations operating from there,” he said.
The Qatari diplomat noted that to date there is no clarity “on the way forward” for the country.
“We’ve been advising the international community that we need to arrange a blueprint for the way forward—what are the required series of conditions we need from the current leadership in Afghanistan, in exchange of what we can provide as an international community,” added Sheikh Mohammed.
The Gulf state has also repeatedly called for the need to preserve the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.
Several statements have been made by Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and other Qatari officials, in which they urged the acting Afghan government to ensure the protection of women and girls rights.
Doha was quick to release a statement expressing its disappointment in the Taliban’s decision to ban girls from schools earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the Gulf state has also been a safe space for Afghan student evacuees, including the all-girls robotics team the Afghan Dreamers, who have been provided with education and accommodation in Qatar.