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U.S. says banks can transfer money to Afghanistan

FILE PHOTO: A displaced Afghan woman holds her child as she waits with other women to receive aid supply outside an UNCHR distribution center on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

The U.S. stated on Wednesday that international banks can transfer money to Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes, and aid groups can pay teachers and healthcare personnel at state-run institutions without risk of violating Taliban prohibitions.

The news: The U.S. Treasury Department provided clarification on sanctions exemptions granted in September and December for humanitarian work in Afghanistan, where the UN estimates that more than half of the country’s 39 million people are hungry, and the economy, education, and social services are all on the verge of collapse.

  • Last week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that Afghanistan was “hanging on a thread.”
  • In August, the Taliban, which has long been designated as a terrorist organisation by the U.S., overthrew Afghanistan’s internationally supported government. To prevent it from coming into Taliban hands, billions of dollars in Afghan central bank reserves and international development funding were blocked.

What’s going on: International banks are cautious of Afghanistan, and the UN and aid organisations are having difficulty getting enough money into the country to fund their operations.

  • Banks can execute humanitarian transactions including clearing, settlement, and transfers through, to, or otherwise involving privately owned and state-owned Afghan depository institutions, according to the U.S. Treasury.
  • It also outlined permissible transactions involving the Taliban, which includes the Haqqani Network, which is also on the blacklist. Signing agreements to offer direct help to Afghans, general aid coordination, including import administration, and sharing office space are among them.
  • Aid organisations are also permitted to ship cash to Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes, as well as provide direct payments to healthcare staff and teachers at public hospitals and schools, according to the statement.
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