The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released its 57th quarterly report, in which it highlighted the political, economic, humanitarian and human rights situation in Afghanistan.
The report underlined the establishment of the “The Afghan Fund," saying that the US State Department did so to provide $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan central bank assets for the benefit of the Afghan people.
“The Afghan Fund aims to protect, preserve, and make targeted disbursements of this $3.5 billion to help provide greater stability to the Afghan economy and ultimately work to alleviate the worst effects of the humanitarian crisis,” the report reads.
On February 11, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden acted to block the DAB assets in response to a writ of execution issued on September 13, 2021, by victims of the 9/11 attacks who had earlier won a judgment against the Taliban for more than $7 billion.
“The writ of execution was issued in an attempt to seize the assets, most of which were on deposit with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York,” the report said. “The effect of Executive Order was to preserve the DAB assets until several complex legal issues could be resolved in court. In a Statement of Interest filed in court on the same day the President signed, the United States stated that it intended to use $3.5 billion of the $7 billion to address the economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and would leave it to the court to decide whether the other $3.5 billion could be used to compensate 9/11 victims.”
But the report said that the ultimate disposition of these assets remains subject to court decision.
According to SIGAR, another approximately $2 billion in Afghan central bank assets held in Europe and the United Arab Emirates may also end up in the Fund.
“The Taliban’s repression and economic mismanagement have exacerbated longstanding economic challenges for Afghanistan, including through actions that have diminished the capacity of key Afghan economic institutions and made the return of these funds to Afghanistan untenable,” said Wally Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, as quoted by SIGAR. “Through this Fund, the United States will work closely with our international partners to facilitate use of these assets to improve the lives of ordinary people in Afghanistan.”
SIGAR said that USAID has failed to answer its data request on US spending in Afghanistan.
“The United States remains Afghanistan’s single largest donor, providing more than $1.1 billion in assistance to support the Afghan people since the Taliban takeover in August 2021,” the report said. “However, SIGAR, for the first time in its history, is unable this quarter to provide Congress and the American people with a full accounting of this US government spending due to the non-cooperation of US agencies.”
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) said that the humanitarian aid must be provided in coordination with the caretaker government in Afghanistan in order to alleviate poverty in the country.
“The $1 billion which they provided in humanitarian aid, if we look into it, it has not provided any job for anyone anywhere nor did it solve the economic problems of the people in the long term,” said Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for the MoF.
“Over the past 14 months, the US and its partners were the major donors for the government in Afghanistan. A part of this aid was aimed at alleviating the emergency situation of hunger and countering malnutrition in the country,” said Darya Khan Baheer, an economist.
SIGAR said that this quarter, USAID refused to report its account balances to SIGAR and therefore, it is making the qualified statement that the United States government had appropriated or otherwise made available approximately $146.55 billion in funds for reconstruction and related activities in Afghanistan since FY 2002, based on USAID reporting on its accounts through June 30, 2022, and all other U.S. government agencies’ reporting on their accounts through September 30, 2022. USAID’s refusal to report to SIGAR its account balances this quarter undermines SIGAR’s ability to properly fulfill its legislative mandate as well as the usefulness of the information that SIGAR provides to the U.S. Congress and other readers.
According to SIGAR, the total Afghanistan reconstruction funding has been allocated as follows:
- “$88.85 billion for security (including $4.60 billion for counternarcotics initiatives)"
- “$36.26 billion for governance and development (including $4.22 billion for additional counternarcotics initiatives)"
- “$5.26 billion for humanitarian aid"
- “$16.18 billion for agency operations”
SIGAR’s report also underscored the closure of girls’ schools since the Islamic Emirate came to power in the country.
“The Taliban have not permitted girls to attend school between the sixth and twelfth grades since they took power in August 2021,” the report said. “On September 18, 2022, the first anniversary of the reopening of boys’ high schools, the United Nations again called on the Taliban to allow girls to return to high schools, noting that the denial of education violates the most fundamental rights of women and girls, and increases the risk of marginalization, violence, exploitation, and abuse.”
SIGAR said that despite promises by the officials of the Islamic Emirate to reopen the girls' schools above grade six, there is yet to be determined time for the reopening of these schools.
The report of SIGAR expressed concerns about the human rights situation including the freedom of speech and media in Afghanistan.
“Despite the new circumstances, Afghan journalists have continued to advocate for their freedom of speech and to persevere in their mission to inform and educate the public,” SIGAR said. “But, without long-term, institutional support to independent journalists inside and outside of the country, it is not clear that Afghanistan’s media will be able to withstand the Taliban’s efforts to totally control information about Afghanistan.”