UN urgently needs money in Afghanistan, but struggles to find a solution
By Jonathan Landay and Michelle Nichols
WASHINGTON / NEW YORK, October 28 (Reuters) – The United Nations cannot get enough money in Afghanistan to provide humanitarian aid to millions of people on the brink of famine and is struggling to develop options to help stabilize the collapsing economy, said UN officials.
Ultimately, political solutions are needed, a senior UN official told Reuters on condition of anonymity, an apparent reference to sanctions relief and for governments and institutions to release billions of dollars. Afghan assets held abroad.
Meanwhile, UN agencies are scrambling to find ways to send large amounts of U.S. dollars to Afghanistan to tackle a liquidity crunch that has set in since the Taliban toppled the government-backed government. ‘West in August. The UN official shared with Reuters some of the suggested options.
The delivery of US dollars to Afghanistan has stopped since Islamist militants took power and if countries or international financial institutions do not step up their efforts, the United Nations may have to fill the void, the government said. responsible.
One suggested option is to use the Afghanistan International Bank, which could bring in and store money, but there are insurance issues, the UN official said.
The United Nations is also aware that neither option will work and that several ways of getting enough money in Afghanistan are needed, the official said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on the International Monetary Fund to accept waivers or mechanisms to send money to Afghanistan. The IMF blocked the Taliban from accessing some $ 440 million in new emergency reserves.
Much of the Afghan central bank’s $ 10 billion in overseas assets have also been frozen, most of it in the United States. The US Treasury said there were no plans to release the money.
“We have to work together to revive the economy and help people survive,” Guterres said Wednesday. “Injecting liquidity into the Afghan economy can be done without violating international laws or compromising principles. “
STEALING MONEY NOT YET ON TABLE
The United Nations has repeatedly warned that the Afghan economy is on the brink of collapse and will likely fuel a refugee crisis further.
Asked about the UN’s efforts to send money to Afghanistan, Mary-Ellen McGroarty, head of the World Food Program in Afghanistan, told reporters Tuesday: Country is not yet on the table. “
“What we are using at the moment is the limited liquidity that is in the country,” she said. “But the more it goes on… we find it getting harder and harder.”
Some 8.7 million people are “one step away from starvation,” McGroarty said, adding: “There is a tsunami of misery, incredible suffering and hunger that is spiraling out of control.”
The Taliban face increasing international pressure for an inclusive and representative Afghan government and for respect for human rights, especially those of women and girls in return for international recognition and the release of aid and reserves .
Donors and institutions are also seeking to avoid encountering unilateral UN sanctions against the Taliban.
The UN calls on countries “to provide humanitarian financial exemptions to allow funds to reach aid organizations in the country,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said, without naming names.
UN agencies and aid groups currently use informal money transfer networks – known as hawalas – and small amounts of money in banks to pay staff salaries and others. smaller-scale purchases, Dujarric told Reuters.
“These modalities, however, are not sufficient for large-scale operations requiring cash payments or in-country cash assistance,” Dujarric said, adding that the United Nations was discussing with international financial institutions to find a solution that would allow to expand aid operations.
A key part of the UN’s plans to get money into Afghanistan is to provide money directly to poor Afghan families.
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay in Washington and Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)
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