The Taliban has renewed calls for Washington to release Afghanistan’s Central Bank assets frozen by the U.S. Federal Reserve, as the war-ravaged nation faces one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
In a letter to the U.S. Congress, Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting foreign minister of the Taliban-led government, said that the situation in Afghanistan is getting increasingly dire as winter approaches.
The U.S. decision to freeze the assets of a nation already plagued by poverty, war, drought, and the coronavirus pandemic has been hurting ordinary Afghans, Muttaqi said in the letter, released on November 17.
He warned that if the crisis continues in Afghanistan, it could fuel a refugee crisis impacting the whole world.
After the Taliban takeover in August, the United States froze nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank and stopped shipments of cash.
The move was part of a pressure campaign aimed at getting Afghanistan's new rulers to create an inclusive government and respect the rights of women and minorities.
Also, the International Monetary Fund said earlier this year that Afghanistan will no longer be able to access its resources.
The World Bank has also halted funding for projects in Afghanistan, which has also been hit by an exodus of foreign aid. Afghanistan is suffering from a severe drought, as well.
The UN's World Food Program (WFP) warned in October that millions of Afghans could face starvation due to a combination of the drought, conflict, and COVID-19 this winter unless urgent action is taken.
More than half of the Afghan population -- about 22.8 million people -- faces acute food insecurity, while 3.2 million children under the age of 5 could suffer acute malnutrition, the WFP said.
WFP chief David Beasley said that Afghanistan is “now among the world's worst humanitarian crises, if not the worst.”