Alongside its G20 allies, Canada joined the effort to convince Afghanistan's Taliban rulers to permit humanitarian aid for its struggling residents. During a virtual summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his fellow G20 leaders discussed the country's internal crisis created by the Taliban's decisive routing of Kabul's Western-backed government.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi hosted the Tuesday meeting, with the US, China and Russia also attending the virtual conference. The US previously pledged $64 million in aid on top of the $330 million already provided to Afghanistan upon its collapse.
Trudeau pressed the Taliban to protect the fundamental rights of all Afghans, especially women. The meeting marked one of the first multilateral gatherings since Afghanistan's collapse after the US withdrew its military forces, ending two decades of Western military and political engagement.
The European Union emerged from the summit Tuesday announcing a support package of $1.4 billion for Afghanistan. On the verge of collapse, its population faces dire food shortages. Even before the country fell to the Taliban, Afghanistan was heavily dependent on foreign aid.
After its August announcement of an additional $50 million in humanitarian assistance to international organizations helping Afghanistan, Canada maintained the said financial commitment without announcing new aid. Canada and its allies channel financial aid through international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank, which send it directly to Afghan residents.
A senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Trudeau used his speaking time at the G20 meeting to push the resettlement of Afghan refugees, noting Canada doubled its commitment to accept 40,000 asylum seekers. The prime minister committed mid-August to resettle 20,000 Afghans through the ongoing Special Immigration Measures (SIMs) program.
"Our ongoing work to bring Afghans to safety in Canada under SIMs remains a top priority," he said then, "and we will continue to work in close collaboration with partners in Afghanistan and allies on this commitment."
The prime minister spent part of his Thanksgiving holiday meeting a family of Afghan refugees who recently arrived in Canada. Trudeau met the family at a home where volunteers prepared gift baskets to give to resettled Afghan families, where he helped wrap one of them. "This is what Thanksgiving is all about," Trudeau said Saturday.
More than 1,000 Afghan refugees arrived in Canada since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban over the summer. "We're happy to bring [them] here for the next phase of your life," said Trudeau. "We will continue to work together towards a better future."