Skyline of Kabul in Afghanistan 051121 CREDIT REUTERS ALAMY
Skyline of Kabul in Afghanistan (Picture: Alamy).

Gordon Brown: West 'sleepwalking' into historic Afghanistan crisis

The former Prime Minister says a lack of action could foster "anti-western resentment" as economic forecasts for the country raise alarm.

Skyline of Kabul in Afghanistan 051121 CREDIT REUTERS ALAMY
Skyline of Kabul in Afghanistan (Picture: Alamy).

The West is "sleepwalking into the biggest humanitarian crisis of our times" following the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Gordon Brown has said.

Writing for The Times Red Box, the former Labour Prime Minister called on the global community to commit to the "largest humanitarian response ever agreed for a single nation" as he warned the country is "on the brink of economic and social collapse".

Mr Brown said more than half of the Afghan population is facing extreme hunger, including a million children who are at risk of starving to death.

He also said that, by "standing aside" since the August withdrawal of British and US troops and the subsequent Taliban takeover, the West was fostering conditions for "the exploitation of grievances and anti-western resentment that may come back to haunt us".

Pointing to UN and International Monetary Fund predictions that the Afghan economy will contract by an 20 to 30 percent over the next year, Mr Brown warned the crisis could be felt as far away as Europe if thousands were faced with the choice of starvation or emigration.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown says "standing aside" post-withdrawal may "come back to haunt" the West (Picture: Alamy).

In order to most immediately address the crisis, Britain's former leader called on global support for a $4.5bn (£3.3bn) plan from the UN Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which would offer help to 22 million of the most vulnerable Afghans.

Mr Brown said: "It cost America trillions to fight the war in Afghanistan. It is not beyond our capacity to find $4bn to prevent starvation amid this uneasy peace.

"This tragedy foretold cannot be a tragedy unresolved."

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN members in 2015, outlined the goal to free the world from poverty.

Mr Brown said this is "ironic" as "almost every citizen of Afghanistan will be condemned to that dire fate" without further action.