The West “sinks into the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time” after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Gordon Brown said.
Writing for The Times Red Box, the former prime minister called on the global community to engage in the “greatest humanitarian response ever agreed for a single nation” as he warned the country was “on the brink of economic and social collapse ”.
Mr Brown said more than half of the Afghan population face extreme hunger, including one million children who are at risk of starving to death.
He highlighted forecasts from the UN and the International Monetary Fund that the Afghan economy would contract by 20 to 30 percent over the next year – a figure he called “unprecedented”.
“No country in recent times has suffered from such ‘universal poverty’ as Afghanistan could,” Brown said.
“It is ironic that when the entire international community is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – to free the world from absolute poverty this decade – almost all Afghan citizens will be doomed to this tragic fate.
“Instead of not having absolute poverty in any country, we will have the horror of virtually an entire country living in absolute poverty.”
Mr Brown said the effects of the poverty crisis in Afghanistan could ripple through Europe as thousands of Afghans face the choice of starvation or emigration.
He also warned that by “standing on the sidelines” since the August withdrawal, the West was fostering conditions “for exploiting anti-Western grievances and resentment that could come back to haunt us.”
In order to resolve the crisis as quickly as possible, Mr Brown called for global support for a $ 4.5 billion (£ 3.3 billion) plan from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which would provide assistance to 22 million of the most vulnerable Afghans. .
Mr. Brown said: “It cost America billions of billions to wage the war in Afghanistan. It is not beyond our ability to find $ 4 billion to avert starvation in the midst of this precarious peace.
“This foretold tragedy cannot be an unresolved tragedy.”