Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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Economic Causes of Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Crisis

3 min

HRW, 4 August 2022

A useful overview over the current humanitarian situation in Afghanistan plus questions and answers on th US sanctions and banking restrictions on the Taleban which in reality hit the Afghan people indiscriminately. HRW sums up: “Economic Crisis Underlies Mass Hunger”.

The following questions are answered:

  • How serious is the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan?
  • How has the humanitarian crisis affected women and girls?
  • How is the economic crisis causing the humanitarian crisis?
  • Why did the Afghan economy collapse?
  • How are sanctions related to the economic crisis?
  • Did the Biden administration seize Afghan foreign currency reserves in the US?
  • Did the Biden administration set aside $3.5 billion of Afghan currency reserves for families of victims of the September 11 attacks?
  • Can President Biden’s February 11 order be changed or overturned?
  • Can increasing foreign assistance end the humanitarian crisis?
  • If the Central Bank is given access to assets, can’t the Taliban just take the funds?
  • How can relief from existing sanctions improve the situation?
  • What should be done to address Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis?

And this should be done:

Human Rights Watch recommends that:

  • The Taliban should end its violations of human rights, including abusive policies targeting women and girls that have deepened the gendered impact of the humanitarian crisis. The Taliban should immediately reverse their decisions banning girls from secondary school.
  • Donors, the UN, and other international institutions should press the Taliban to stop violating rights and support mechanisms to monitor human rights including the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN special rapporteur on Afghanistan.
  • Governments, the UN, the World Bank, and the Taliban should work to reach an agreement to allow the Afghanistan Central Bank access to the international banking system and provide it with its requisite credentials. The US Treasury Department and other financial authorities should issue licenses and guidance documents to allow the Central Bank to engage in settlement transactions with outside private banks so that the bank can process or settle all incoming dollar deposits from legitimate private depositors – such as UNICEF, the UN Development Program, remittance banks, and other legitimate actors – and purchase banknotes to hold commercial auctions for private banks in Afghanistan, a key step in restoring liquidity and commercial activity.
  • Governments, the UN, the World Bank, and the Taliban should work to urgently reach an agreement on a mechanism to pay wages for essential workers and numerous food or cash-for-work and other food security programs that were providing purchasing power to millions of families across Afghanistan, including very poor and female-headed households.
  • If agreement involving the Central Bank is not possible, governments, the UN, and the World Bank should negotiate short-term agreements with the Taliban to utilize a private bank or other entity, independent of the Central Bank, to process large-scale humanitarian transactions, to help facilitate payment of salaries of some essential humanitarian workers and other vital cash-for-work and other food security programs, to be monitored by a designated third-party auditing entity.
  • The US Treasury and other authorities should then issue guidance to allow the designated private bank or entity to utilize incoming electronic dollar deposits from humanitarian agencies to purchase US dollar currency outside the country and transport them, under international monitoring, for deposit in private banks in Kabul. Remittance banks should be provided with additional licenses to allow arrangements with the Central Bank and private banks to facilitate legitimate US dollar transactions and, if necessary, physical shipments, monitored by an independent auditor.
  • In the absence of any agreements, the UN should continue to use whatever means are at its disposal to continue shipments of currency to Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes. The Taliban should cooperate in allowing these shipments, allowing deposits into independent private banks, and permitting the UN to use the funds independently and without interference.
  • The US, along with other governments, should immediately undertake sanctions policy reviews, adjust current measures accordingly, and issue new licenses and guidance to facilitate liquidity and availability of paper currency to address the humanitarian crisis.
  • UN Security Council members should take steps to ensure that legitimate financial transactions related to humanitarian activities and the provision of other essential goods and services are excluded from the scope of UN sanctions.
  • UN Security Council members should also reach agreement on issuing new guidance or “Implementation Assistance Notices,” and take other steps to ensure that UN sanctions do not present obstacles to legitimate financial transactions involving the Central Bank, related to humanitarian and other essential work by international and Afghan actors.