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Int'l Groups Warn of Dire Effects of Banking Freeze

Amnesty International called for an easing of financial restrictions on Afghanistan that are blocking the provision of healthcare, food and other essential services and for expedited delivery of humanitarian assistance to avert a mounting crisis in the country.

According to Amnesty International, a combination of a suspension of foreign aid, the freezing of Afghanistan’s central bank assets, and the international sanctions on the Taliban have plunged Afghanistan into an economic crisis.

“Current levels of humanitarian assistance are insufficient to deal with the crisis, with millions of Afghans plunging into poverty and facing the risk of starvation. We have seen countries making pledges and promises to provide aid to Afghanistan over recent months, but this support is yet to reach those who need it the most,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Director.  

Amnesty International has said that using the central bank’s asset is crucial for averting the humanitarian crisis. “Without an urgent program of targeted international support and without permitting the use of Afghanistan government reserves to support the country’s population, the scene is set for a human catastrophe over the coming months,” Mishra said.

According to Amnesty International, the humanitarian aid pledged by the international community will not be enough given the scale of the crisis the people of Afghanistan facing. “Although a flurry of humanitarian aid pledges has been made by the international community, the equipment and cash amounts promised will not be sufficient to cope with the scale of the crisis facing Afghanistan. Moreover, with access to many areas of the country near impossible during winter, it’s also essential that all assistance is carefully planned and delivered on time,” said Mishra.  

Amnesty International has urged all governments and international organizations to review existing policies, including freezes of aid, assets and financial transactions, to find a solution that would allow the use of Afghanistan’s central bank funds to cover essential needs.

The International Committee of the Red Cross meanwhile has also warned of a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Dominik Stillhart, the director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, pointing to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan said sanctions on banking services are sending the economy of the country into free-fall.

“The international community is turning its back as the country teeters on the precipice of man-made catastrophe,” he said. He called for international community to engage with Afghanistan to prevent a total collapse of essential services.

ICRC has started supporting 18 regional and provincial hospitals and 5,100 staff to help prevent total collapse of the public health system in the country, ICRC said in a statement. The help is not enough, the statement added.

ICRC said malnutrition is up 31% around Kandahar compared to the same period in 2020, adding that region by region the severity of child malnutrition can be up to three times the emergency rating.

The concerns about the humanitarian crisis were expressed as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 22.8 million people (of a population of approximately 39-40 million) are facing acute food insecurity and hunger.

The World Food Program has also said that at least a million children are already suffering from acute malnutrition.

According to the UN, more than $200 million of humanitarian aid a month is needed to avert disaster.

Int'l Groups Warn of Dire Effects of Banking Freeze

“It’s so infuriating because this suffering is man-made,” ICRC said.

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Amnesty International called for an easing of financial restrictions on Afghanistan that are blocking the provision of healthcare, food and other essential services and for expedited delivery of humanitarian assistance to avert a mounting crisis in the country.

According to Amnesty International, a combination of a suspension of foreign aid, the freezing of Afghanistan’s central bank assets, and the international sanctions on the Taliban have plunged Afghanistan into an economic crisis.

“Current levels of humanitarian assistance are insufficient to deal with the crisis, with millions of Afghans plunging into poverty and facing the risk of starvation. We have seen countries making pledges and promises to provide aid to Afghanistan over recent months, but this support is yet to reach those who need it the most,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Director.  

Amnesty International has said that using the central bank’s asset is crucial for averting the humanitarian crisis. “Without an urgent program of targeted international support and without permitting the use of Afghanistan government reserves to support the country’s population, the scene is set for a human catastrophe over the coming months,” Mishra said.

According to Amnesty International, the humanitarian aid pledged by the international community will not be enough given the scale of the crisis the people of Afghanistan facing. “Although a flurry of humanitarian aid pledges has been made by the international community, the equipment and cash amounts promised will not be sufficient to cope with the scale of the crisis facing Afghanistan. Moreover, with access to many areas of the country near impossible during winter, it’s also essential that all assistance is carefully planned and delivered on time,” said Mishra.  

Amnesty International has urged all governments and international organizations to review existing policies, including freezes of aid, assets and financial transactions, to find a solution that would allow the use of Afghanistan’s central bank funds to cover essential needs.

The International Committee of the Red Cross meanwhile has also warned of a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Dominik Stillhart, the director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, pointing to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan said sanctions on banking services are sending the economy of the country into free-fall.

“The international community is turning its back as the country teeters on the precipice of man-made catastrophe,” he said. He called for international community to engage with Afghanistan to prevent a total collapse of essential services.

ICRC has started supporting 18 regional and provincial hospitals and 5,100 staff to help prevent total collapse of the public health system in the country, ICRC said in a statement. The help is not enough, the statement added.

ICRC said malnutrition is up 31% around Kandahar compared to the same period in 2020, adding that region by region the severity of child malnutrition can be up to three times the emergency rating.

The concerns about the humanitarian crisis were expressed as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 22.8 million people (of a population of approximately 39-40 million) are facing acute food insecurity and hunger.

The World Food Program has also said that at least a million children are already suffering from acute malnutrition.

According to the UN, more than $200 million of humanitarian aid a month is needed to avert disaster.

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