US sets up Afghan relief fund with frozen central bank money

Sep 13, 2022, 6:29 PM | Updated: Sep 15, 2022, 6:48 am
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks about the end of the war in Afghanistan from the State Dining Roo...

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks about the end of the war in Afghanistan from the State Dining Room of the White House, Aug. 31, 2021, in Washington. The U.S. and Swiss governments and Afghan economics experts say they'll transfer $3.5 billion in frozen funds from Afghanistan’s central bank to use for the country’s people as hunger grips every province there. The Taliban government will not be a part of the new Afghan Fund, which will maintain its account with the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A year after the tumultuous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden administration said Wednesday it will transfer $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan central bank funds to benefit the Afghan people, as hunger grips every province there.

Funds will be dispersed after trustees of the new Afghan Fund meet to determine a timetable. The trustees are two Afghan economists, a U.S. government representative and a Swiss government representative.

Notably, the Taliban government will not have access to the fund, which will be held at the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland. The bank in a news release said its role is “limited to providing banking services to and executing the instructions of the Board of Trustees of the Fund without involvement in the Fund’s governance or decision making.”

In the interim, Afghanistan’s central bank, which in February had $7 billion in frozen funds, “must demonstrate that it has the expertise, capacity, and independence to responsibly perform the duties of a central bank,” the U.S. Treasury and State departments said in a joint statement. “Robust safeguards have been put in place to prevent the funds from being used for illicit activity.”

International funding to Afghanistan was suspended and billions of dollars of the country’s assets abroad, mostly in the United States, were frozen after the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021 following the U.S. military’s withdrawal.

The World Bank says income and economic output in Afghanistan have dropped between 20% and 30%, imports have declined by roughly 40%, and 70% of Afghan households report they are unable to fully meet basic food or non-food needs.

In February, President Joe Biden issued an executive order that called for banks to provide $3.5 billion of the frozen money to a trust fund for distribution through humanitarian groups for Afghan relief and basic needs.

The other $3.5 billion will stay in the U.S. to finance payments from lawsuits by U.S. victims of terrorism that are still working their way through the courts, prompted by claims brought by family members of people killed on Sept 11, 2001.

“The Afghan Fund will help mitigate the economic challenges facing Afghanistan while protecting and preserving $3.5 billion in reserves from Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), Afghanistan’s central bank, for the benefit of the people of Afghanistan,” Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said.

He said the Taliban’s “repression and economic mismanagement” had exacerbated longstanding economic challenges for Afghanistan that had made the return of the funds untenable.

In a Tuesday letter to Afghanistan’s central bank, Adeyemo said until conditions for the central bank are met, their control of assets “would place them at unacceptable risk and jeopardize them as a source of support for the Afghan people.”

Shah Mehrabi, a Montgomery College economics professor, is one of the trustees of the new fund. He told The Associated Press that the money should be used primarily to maintain price stability in the country, rather than for humanitarian purposes.

“I think the purpose of board, as a member, is to address the liquidity and price stability issues in the country expeditiously, prior to a harsh winter,” he said. “There are ways we can provide relief so that Afghans are able to have food and energy and to perform their basic daily duties.”

Human Rights Watch said in August that Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis cannot be effectively addressed unless the U.S. and other governments ease restrictions on the country’s banking sector to allow economic activity and humanitarian aid.

Nearly half the Afghan population — 18.9 million people — is estimated to be acutely food insecure between June and November 2022, the World Food Programme said. All 34 provinces in the country are facing some level of crisis or emergency levels of acute food insecurity.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the people of Afghanistan are facing humanitarian and economic crises born of “decades of conflict, severe drought, COVID-19, and endemic corruption.”

“Today, the United States and its partners take an important, concrete step forward in ensuring that additional resources can be brought to bear to reduce suffering and improve economic stability for the people of Afghanistan while continuing to hold the Taliban accountable,” Sherman said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Eviation's "Alice", the world's first all-electric commuter airplane, takes off for its first fligh...
Associated Press

Prototype electric airplane takes first flight

A prototype, all-electric airplane took its first flight Tuesday morning in central Washington state.
24 hours ago
FILE - Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Ex...
Associated Press

In court brief, Musk says the SEC is unlawfully muzzling him

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. Securities regulators are unlawfully muzzling Tesla CEO Elon Musk, violating his free speech rights by continually trying to enforce a 2018 securities fraud settlement, Musk’s lawyer contends in a court brief. The document, filed late Tuesday with the federal appeals court in Manhattan, was written to support Musk’s appeal of a […]
24 hours ago
A person wearing a protective mask walks in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikk...
Associated Press

Asian shares sharply lower after wobbly day on Wall Street

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares tumbled Wednesday after a wobbly day ended with mixed results on Wall Street as markets churn over the prospect of a possible recession. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index sank 2.1% to 26,020.56 while the Kospi in Seoul lost 2.8% to 2,161.95. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 gave up 0.8% to 6,442.40. […]
24 hours ago
File - Iranian women demonstrate for equal rights, March 12, 1979. Iran's Islamic Republic requires...
Associated Press

Iran’s anti-veil protests draw on long history of resistance

A young woman climbs to the top of a car in the middle of Mashhad, a conservative Iranian city famed for its Islamic shrines. She takes off her headscarf and starts chanting, “Death to the dictator!” Protesters nearby join in and cars honk in support. For many Iranian women, it’s an image that would have […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Anti-Japan protesters on disputed islands march near the Japanese Consulate General in Shang...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What’s behind strained China-Japan relations

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and China on Thursday mark the 50th anniversary of the 1972 normalization of their ties, but there isn’t much of a celebratory mood. Improved ties between Asia’s two biggest economies are considered vital to the region’s stability and prosperity, but they remain at odds over disputed East China Sea islands and […]
24 hours ago
FILE - This aerial photo taken from an airplane shows a reservoir near the old Piney Point phosphat...
Associated Press

Pollution from Florida mining a concern with Hurricane Ian

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The polluted leftovers of Florida’s phosphate fertilizer mining industry, more than 1 billion tons in “stacks” that resemble enormous ponds, are at risk for leaks or other contamination when Hurricane Ian comes ashore in the state, environmental groups say. Florida has 24 such phosphogypsum stacks, most of them concentrated in […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
US sets up Afghan relief fund with frozen central bank money