Reported by VARUN HUKERI | GENERAL ASSIGNMENT & ANALYSIS REPORTER | October 07, 2021
U.S. and international officials are preparing to airlift U.S. cash into Afghanistan for humanitarian assistance while “denying assets” for the Taliban government and its leaders, according to Reuters. Emergency funding for Afghanistan, aimed at preventing a humanitarian crisis amid food shortages and political upheaval, would see U.S. cash flown into Kabul for distribution through banks, Reuters reported. Officials reportedly plan to send $200 in direct cash to Afghans without involving the Taliban.
The U.S. and Europe have reportedly discussed creating an international trust fund to bypass the Taliban government and fund local services. International groups such as the World Food Program and the United Nations are also considering flying in U.S. cash, officials said, according to Reuters.
A U.S. Treasury official said the department would allow humanitarian assistance through international and non-governmental organizations, Reuters reported.
On the international level, one approach could see the World Food Program airlift U.S. dollars and distribute them to people to purchase essentials such as food. A second approach could see the U.N. send cash currently held in banks, according to internal policy documents obtained by Reuters.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and departure of U.S. troops has led foreign donors and investors to pull billions from the country.
The International Monetary Fund suspended Afghanistan’s access to its resources, including $460 million in emergency reserves on Aug. 18. The World Bank halted aid to Afghanistan one week later due to concerns about “development prospects, especially for women,” the BBC reported.
The U.S. also froze billions of dollars in assets from accounts held in Afghanistan’s central bank, a Biden administration official told Axios. The move has prevented the Taliban government from accessing an estimated $9.4 billion in international reserves.
Around 75% of public spending in Afghanistan had been financed by foreign grants prior to the Taliban takeover, according to the World Bank. International groups warn that 14 million Afghans are facing hunger and the country’s economy could collapse amid a major cash shortage.
“If the country collapses, we will all pay the consequences,” a senior European Union official said, according to Reuters. “No one wants to rush into a recognition of the Taliban, but we need to deal with them. The question is not if … but how.”