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UN rights experts urge US to ease Afghan assets freeze

Since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan last August, and the western sanctions that followed it, crippled the country’s economy and pushed millions back into poverty. Today, the country has the highest number of people, around 23 million, requiring urgent direct food assistance

Apr 26, 2022
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UN rights experts urge US to ease Afghan assets freeze (Photo: UN)

Alarmed by the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, independent UN rights experts have urged the United States to ease the freeze on the almost $7 billion Afghan reserves which remain blocked in the US to support the country’s humanitarian operations.

Significantly, the humanitarian exemptions to Afghan sanctions – agreed to by UN Security Council last December – has led to “no significant progress” in financial or commercial aid to Afghanistan, as many foreign banks were concerned about breaching restrictions, a group of independent rights experts said in a statement on Monday.

Since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan last August, and the western sanctions that followed it, crippled the country’s economy and pushed millions back into poverty. Today, the country has the highest number of people, around 23 million, requiring urgent direct food assistance.

Earlier, UN Secretary-General Anthony Guterres termed the situation an “epic humanitarian crisis on the verge of a development catastrophe”. The experts urged States to re-assess any adopted unilateral measure and lift all obstacles to providing the necessary financial and humanitarian aid.

Significantly, UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons had also suggested the measures, including easing sanctions, to revive the country’s economy. She also said such a large humanitarian need would not be tackled alone by donations.

The uncertainty caused by banks’ zero-risk policies and over-compliance with sanctions has left humanitarian actors facing serious operational challenges.
The statement released by the experts also said the US Executive Order may “exacerbate the climate of uncertainty among relevant actors...resulting in over-zealous compliance with sanctions,” thus preventing Afghans from “access to basic humanitarian goods”

(SAM) 

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