| 6 October 2022, Thursday |

US to free $3.5 bln in frozen Afghan assets to aid Afghan people: Sources

According to a US official familiar with the decision, President Joe Biden is expected to issue an executive order on Friday directing the transfer of $7 billion in Afghan central bank assets frozen in the US banking system to fund humanitarian relief in Afghanistan and compensate victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The ruling would oblige US financial institutions to make $3.5 billion in assets available for Afghan aid and basic necessities. The other $3.5 billion would remain in the United States and would be used to finance continuing lawsuits by US victims of terrorism, according to the official. Because the decision had not yet been properly announced, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Following the Taliban’s takeover of the country in mid-August, international aid to Afghanistan was ceased, and billions of dollars in the government’s assets overseas, principally in the United States, were frozen.

Since the Taliban took charge, the country’s long-struggling economy has been in a tailspin. The international community funded about 80% of Afghanistan’s previous government’s budget. That money, which has now been shut off, was used to fund hospitals, schools, companies, and government departments. The COVID-19 epidemic, as well as health-care shortages, drought, and starvation, have heightened the need for such basic commodities.

According to the official, US courts where 9/11 victims have filed claims against the Taliban would also need to take action in order for the victims to be reimbursed.

Biden is anticipated to sign the executive order later on Friday.

The Taliban has urged the world community to provide finances and assist in averting a humanitarian calamity.

Afghanistan has more over $9 billion in reserves, including somewhat more than $7 billion held in the United States. The remainder is concentrated in Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, and Qatar.

The Taliban will almost certainly reject the division.

As early January, the Taliban had managed to pay the wages of its departments but was having difficulty keeping staff on the job. They have vowed to open schools for females after the Afghan new year, which falls at the end of March, but humanitarian organizations say funds are required to pay instructors.

Universities for women have reopened in many areas, with the Taliban claiming that the phased opening will be finished by the end of February, when all universities for men and women will reopen, a significant concession to foreign demands.

The New York Times was the first to report on Biden’s impending decree.

  • Reuters