Gordon Brown calls for special conference to avoid starvation in Afghanistan

Former prime minister Gordon Brown is urging the Government to convene a special conference to help stave off a “winter of starvation” in Afghanistan.

He has written to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss proposing the UK holds an “Afghan pledging conference” in support of the UN’s emergency Afghan Appeal.

In the letter, he suggests the UK jointly co-hosts the humanitarian event with the European Union.

Relief in the form of aid will not be enough, said Mr Brown, adding that immediate action was needed to to stop 97% of Afghans becoming condemned to poverty.

He wrote: “More than half the Afghan population, 23 million, now face extreme levels of hunger, with 8.7 million at risk of famine, including one million children with severe acute malnutrition who are at risk of dying soon from starvation.

“Relief in the form of aid will not be sufficient to restore the economy of Afghanistan.

“Difficult decisions will need to be made about dollar/Afghan currency swaps and, the revival of the banking and payment systems, without giving succour to the Taliban regime.

“But we need immediate action to prevent a winter of starvation.

“You have already allocated funds to Afghan humanitarian aid both in August and then in December.

“In addition, Germany has announced an additional 600 million euros for humanitarian assistance.

“I believe that if the UK took this initiative and offered more help, we can look forward to receiving support for the proposed pledging conference from the 36 members of the coalition which sent troops to Afghanistan and from the Middle East state and from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.”