Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report said the drone strike on Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of al-Qaeda, should not derail ongoing discussions between the US and Afghanistan over banking. which should allow regular Afghans to "engage in legitimate commercial activity."
“The US and other governments and the World Bank Group revoked the credentials of the Central Bank of Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover on August 15, 2021. The US air strike on July 30, 2022, killing the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, should not derail ongoing discussions between the US and Afghanistan to urgently reach an agreement allowing ordinary Afghans to engage in legitimate commercial activity,” the report reads.
According to HRW, until the United States and other countries remove restrictions on Afghanistan's banking industry to allow for legitimate economic activity and humanitarian relief, the country's humanitarian situation cannot be effectively addressed.
“Afghanistan’s intensifying hunger and health crisis is urgent and at its root a banking crisis,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Regardless of the Taliban’s status or credibility with outside governments, international economic restrictions are still driving the country’s catastrophe and hurting the Afghan people.”
"People are dying from lack of food as a result of the everyday restrictions imposed by the Taliban on the basic and individual rights of the Afghan people," said Freshta Abasi, researcher of HRW.
The report further added that despite actions by the US and others to license banking transactions with Afghan entities, Afghanistan’s central bank remains unable to access its foreign currency reserves or process or receive most international transactions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economy of Afghanistan said that the restrictions on banks have a negative impact on the country's economy and the Islamic Emirate is internationally interacting and discussing ways to remove these restrictions.
"The Islamic Emirate is interacting and holding discussions so that banking restrictions will be lifted, and countries should not use tools to advance their foreign policy aims for political purposes," said Abdul Latif Nazari, deputy of the ministry.
The report also reads that acute malnutrition is entrenched across Afghanistan, even though food and basic supplies are available in markets throughout the country.
According to HRW, Afghan refugees cannot send money to their relatives due to banking problems, and traders are also having trouble paying for goods.
"Afghan banks are facing these challenges as international banks have lowered their willingness and do not want to be involved in this risk," said Siyar Quraishi, an expert on banking issues.
"Without banking services, economic dynamism is impossible, and it is even impossible to transfer humanitarian aid to the poor and hungry people of Afghanistan, but the lack of a suitable political platform and the negative effects of politics on the economy have deprived us of having an effective and active banking system," said economist Azerakhsh Hafizi.
Based on the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, overall, more than 90 percent of Afghans have been suffering from some form of food insecurity since last August, skipping meals or whole days of eating and engaging in extreme coping mechanisms to pay for food, including sending children to work.