UN chief calls on US and World Bank to release funds to Afghans on “brink of death”

The UN chief warned on Thursday that millions of Afghans were on the brink of death, and called on the international community to fund the UN $ 5 billion humanitarian appeal, free up Afghanistan’s frozen assets and speed up its banking system to prevent economic and social hardship. collapse.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters that “minus degrees and frozen assets are a deadly combination for the people of Afghanistan”, and “rules and conditions that prevent money from being used to save lives and the economy must be disrupted in this emergency.”

Afghanistan’s aid – dependent economy was stumbling when the Taliban seized power in mid-August amid the chaotic departure of US and NATO troops after 20 years. The international community froze Afghanistan’s assets abroad and stopped financial support because it was reluctant to work with the Taliban, given their reputation for brutality during their 1996-2001 rule and refusal to educate girls and allow women to work.

The UN says 8.7 million Afghans are on the brink of starvation, and Guterres said it was crucial to quickly add liquidity to the Afghan economy “and avoid a meltdown that would lead to poverty, hunger and poverty for millions.”

It is “absolutely important” to avoid a collapse, he stressed, “because with the current situation, you have Afghans on the brink of death.”

The Secretary-General said that the United States has “a very important role to play because most of the financial system in the world operates in dollars” and that the United States has frozen $ 7 billion in Afghan foreign exchange reserves, mainly in the United States.

Degrees and frozen assets are a deadly combination for the people of Afghanistan.

We must do even more to quickly add liquidity to the economy and avoid the looming meltdown that would lead to poverty, hunger and poverty for millions. pic.twitter.com/S9IA4VWaDj

– António Guterres (@antonioguterres) January 13, 2022

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and Peter Maurer, chairman of the International Committee of the Red Cross, are scheduled to hold a virtual meeting on Friday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Guterres said that one reason for the meeting is to try to create “mechanisms that enable an efficient supply of funds to the Afghan economy and at the same time create conditions for the financial system in Afghanistan to be able to operate in the local currency.”

The UN chief said international funding should be allowed to pay the salaries of doctors, paramedics, electricians and other officials, as well as help Afghan institutions deliver health care, education and other important services.

Last month, the World Bank transferred $ 280 million from a reconstruction fund it administers for Afghanistan to the United Nations Children’s Organization, UNICEF, and the World Food Program for their activities in the country, Guterres said.

“I hope that the remaining resources – more than $ 1.2 billion – will be available to help the people of Afghanistan survive the winter,” he said.

While appealing to the international community to support the Afghan people, Guterres said he was appealing to Taliban leaders “to recognize and protect fundamental human rights, and in particular women’s and girls’ rights,” and to build state institutions. where all Afghans feel represented.

“Across Afghanistan, women and girls are missing from offices and classrooms,” Guterres said. “No country can prosper without denying the rights of half of its population.”


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