The United States has eased restrictions on humanitarian aid going to starving Afghanistan and backed a U.N. Security Council resolution exempting much of its aid to that country from sanctions.
The U.S. Treasury Department followed the U.N. resolution by expanding the definition of “authorized humanitarian aid” to include education spending, including teacher salaries, and allowing broader use of U.S. budget funds received by humanitarian organizations working in Afghanistan, the Guardian reported.
Observers, meanwhile, say Washington continues to define the aid issue as a means of pressuring the Taliban (a movement recognized as terrorist and banned in Russia) in Afghanistan so that the Taliban does not infringe on women’s rights, including their access to education. Humanitarian groups have said that by seeking to pressure the Taliban, the United States risks starving ordinary Afghans. Aid agencies have complained for months that Washington’s continued tough sanctions on Taliban leaders and organizations are blocking aid to Afghanistan through normal banking channels.
A U.S.-backed U.N. resolution clarifies that aid to meet the humanitarian needs of Afghans will not be considered money sent to the Taliban. The careful wording of the resolution was the subject of lengthy negotiations within UN walls. Its implementation mechanism will be reviewed after a year and will include strict financial reporting requirements for organizations. The resolution notes that humanitarian aid and other activities aimed at meeting basic human needs in Afghanistan are not a violation of the Taliban sanctions regime. In addition, U.N. aid agencies “are urged to make reasonable efforts to minimize any benefits received by sanctions targets.
It remains to be seen how quickly money from the World Bank and the UN Trust Fund for Afghanistan can be funneled to that country. In addition, the U.S. is unlikely to unlock up to $9 billion in frozen Afghan assets for fear that the Taliban will spend it on their own needs. Attempts by countries such as Qatar to convince the Taliban to loosen the ban on women working and girls going to school have so far proved fruitless.