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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Afghans cross the border into Pakistan with their possessions at the “Friendship Gate” crossing point. This is in Chaman (Pakistan), September 7, 2021. REUTERS/Saeed Ali Achakzai

(Reuters) – Afghanistan needs urgent and sustained support from the international community to prevent a larger humanitarian crisis, the head of the U.N. refugee agency said, warning of global implications if that were to happen.

Following a three-day trip to Afghanistan, U.N. high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi released a statement saying that “the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is very serious.”

In Wednesday’s statement, he said that if the public services and economy fail, there will be more suffering and instability in the country.

“The international community must therefore engage with Afghanistan – and quickly – in order to prevent a much bigger humanitarian crisis that will have not only regional, but global implications.”

Grandi claimed that 18 million Afghans needed aid, which is about half the population of Afghanistan, even before the Taliban took power last month.

In a country suffering from drought and the COVID-19 epidemic, more than 3.5million Afghans had been displaced.

The Taliban overthrow has led to poverty and hunger spiralling since then. U.N. SecretaryGeneral Antonio Guterres stated at the international aid conference this week, that Afghans now face “perhaps their greatest perilous hour”.

The conference saw more than $1.1 million pledged by donors to Afghanistan.

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