The worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is reason for the world to join forces to help the impoverished country’s 40 million people. In the first multilateral effort since the Taliban returned to power in August, representatives of the Group of 20 agreed at a special meeting in Rome earlier this month to provide aid and work together to avoid a catastrophe, even if it meant coordinating with the hardline Islamists. The European Union pledged € 1 billion (US$1.2 billion) for urgent needs and assisting countries taking in refugees. Until nations have cause to recognise the new government, there has to be sustained collaboration to prevent chaos, the fleeing of Afghans and the return of terrorism. Afghanistan has changed little in terms of international law since the Taliban seized Kabul and the former Western-backed government fled, and the military involvement of the United States and its allies ended. But when the group was last in power from 1996 until being overthrown by an American-led force following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the regime had a reputation for supporting Muslim extremists and human rights violations, especially against women. That legacy is a legitimate concern for Afghans as they return to life under Islamic law; the Taliban’s strict interpretation when last in power meant punishments such as public executions. Governments have particular concerns about the Taliban’s historical connections to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and whether it has cut links as claimed. Afghanistan is in a region that is a stronghold of Jihadism and arms trafficking, instrumental reasons for the Taliban’s return to power. The Islamic State group is a rival and through terror cells in the country, is trying to seize control. The lack of recognition of the Taliban has meant a freezing of US$10 billion in assets, mostly held in the US and Britain, and a severing of development aid. About 80 per cent of Afghanistan’s budget had been provided by foreign donors. Emergency help from China and the few other nations worried about the country sliding into chaos cannot meet needs; the Taliban is unable to pay civil servants, prices are soaring, supplies of food and other essentials are running low and there are power cuts and fuel shortages, all of which will be exacerbated by the onset of winter. China has called for engagement with the regime and an end to sanctions. President Xi Jinping’s special envoy, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, presented to the G20 meeting a four-point plan, involving humanitarian aid, development, eliminating terrorism and building consensus. Coupled with the Taliban’s pledges, it is the right approach. The G20 has taken a much-needed first step.