UNITED NATIONS, March 8 (Xinhua) -- The top UN envoy for Afghanistan said on Wednesday that 28 million Afghan people, accounting for two-thirds of the country's population, will need life-saving humanitarian assistance this year.
The humanitarian need will cost 4.62 billion U.S. dollars, the single-largest country appeal ever, Roza Otunbayeva, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, told a Security Council meeting.
Almost half of the Afghan population -- 20 million people -- are experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity, she said, adding that 6 million people are one step away from famine-like conditions.
"Our humanitarian action is challenged by an increasingly complex access and security environment," said Otunbayeva.
The Taliban-run administration's bans against women working in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are not the only serious obstacles to reaching vulnerable populations, she said, voicing concerns that "national women staff working for the UN will also be banned."
The ban on women working for NGOs, along with banning women from higher education, will have serious consequences for the Afghan population and for the relationship between the Taliban and the international community, Otunbayeva said.
She warned that "funding for Afghanistan is likely to drop" if women were not allowed to work.
Otunbayeva also pointed out that the delivery of humanitarian aid is affected by growing concerns about the looming threat of ISIL-K, referring to Islamic State's Afghanistan branch.
Mitigating such threats will require more concerted and more united member state attention and is clearly an issue that the international community has in common with the de facto authorities in Afghanistan, she said. ■