Afghanistan: More than $1 billion pledged to rebuild country

The United Nations has pledged over $1 billion in aid for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: More than $1 billion pledged to rebuild country

The United Nations has pledged over $1 billion in aid for Afghanistan. The UN's secretary general urged the Taliban to engage in peace talks with the Afghan government, but acknowledged that there are obstacles. This article contains a summary of the pledge, summarizes the obstacles to peace talks, and provides links for readers to learn more.

Summary of pledge
At a meeting in Geneva on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres pledged an extra $1 billion in aid for Afghanistan. The funding is in addition to the nearly $4.1 billion in aid already committed by donors. The extra funding will assist more than 2.5 million Afghans in 2018. The pledged aid will go toward assisting more than 10 million Afghans, and will support the country's education, health and social assistance programs. Guterres said "the support from the international community remains vital" for Afghanistan's survival. He underscored that there are a few clear obstacles to peace. “The best way to bring the fighting to an end is to engage the insurgents in a peace process," Guterres said, speaking at a media conference in Geneva.

Obstacles to peace talks
Taliban leaders who rejected the Afghan government's offer of an unconditional ceasefire following Eid Al-Fitr festivities agreed to start peace talks with the United States and other countries. But despite an initial ceasefire, most attacks across Afghanistan by the Taliban, including the recent attack in Kabul that killed over 100 people, showed the groups were not interested in finding a peaceful solution. Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were scheduled to take place on August 25, but they were postponed after a series of bombings and attacks killed more than 150 people. Taliban leaders announced that they would return to a six-day ceasefire that begins on Monday, September 3, but last week they announced it would end at sunset on September 10.

Links for readers to learn more
There is evidence that about 8,000 soldiers died as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan from 2001 to the present day. However, because the U.S. military stopped reporting deaths in 2014, it's difficult to determine exactly how many people have been killed as a result of the conflict. It is important to note that it is often difficult to verify information about war deaths. For instance, the U.S. military used to regularly report the numbers of enemy fighters killed in battle but stopped doing so in 2014. A number of human rights groups have pressed for the U.S. military to report deaths, but this never happened. The battle against Islamic State, al Qaeda, and other groups in Afghanistan has gone on for the past several years. Since the U.S.