(Photo credit: UN)
On 14 December White House press secretary Jen Psaki revealed that the US has no plans to unfreeze almost $10 billion in Afghan foreign reserves held within the US.
Psaki made the announcement in reply to Afghanistan’s interim Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, who had called for the assets to be released the day before.
Days after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on 15 August, the US administration froze all of the country’s assets held inside the US, citing the risk of “misappropriation” by the Taliban.
Following the disastrous withdrawal of its forces on 30 August, the White House also terminated all diplomatic relations with Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s new leaders as well as the United Nations, and nations such as Pakistan and China, among others, have requested that the US release the much-needed resources to help avoid a growing humanitarian crisis in the war-torn nation.
The caretaker Afghan government has so far been completely reliant on international aid to pay public workers and complete vital public works projects, owing to a severe shortage of cash.
It has also relied on assistance from neighboring countries to provide for citizens as the winter season begins.
UN agencies have warned that near-universal poverty is expected in Afghanistan, with nearly three-quarters of the population relying on aid for their survival.
During a briefing in the Swiss city of Geneva on 14 December, a World Food Programme (WFP) official claimed Afghanistan’s weak economy was on the verge of collapse.
According to recent WFP polls, an estimated 98 percent of Afghans are undernourished, with seven out of ten households borrowing food, pushing them deeper into poverty.
But despite this growing crisis, the US has continued to demand its allies avoid providing aid to the country, even pushing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to block the Taliban from accessing emergency COVID-19 relief funds.
According to the UN, Afghanistan is facing “one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.”