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Afghans in the US demand Biden administration lift restrictions on assets

Hundreds of people protest in support of Afghans in New York City, US on 28 August 2021 [Tayfun Coşkun/Anadolu Agency]
Protest in support of Afghans in New York City, US on 28 August 2021 [Tayfun Coşkun/Anadolu Agency]

Afghans in the US have demanded that the Biden administration lift restrictions on the Afghan banking sector and release financial assets belonging to the Afghan people, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The humanitarian situation is worsening in Afghanistan after the US withdrew troops from the conflict-hit country and the Taliban took control of the government by seizing Kabul on 15 August.

The US froze $9 billion in financial assets belonging to the Afghan central bank after the Taliban takeover, and it said assets the government has in the US will not be available to the Taliban.

"Now, Afghanistan is in dire need. I hope they (Biden administration) release the assets of Afghanistan," said Bakhtar Aminzai, a former member of the Meshrano Jirga, the upper house in the Afghanistan parliament.

Aminzai made the remarks Monday to Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of a one-day humanitarian conference for Afghanistan in Washington DC.

READ: Mortar shell blast kills nine children in Afghanistan

He said the effect of frozen assets directly goes to "innocent Afghan people" who, he said, are suffering from the worsening situation in the country.

"I think America, American people and government will soon release the assets of Afghans and encourage charity organisations for helping Afghanistan," added Aminzai.

18 million Afghans, half the country, need humanitarian assistance and roughly 3 million are internally displaced - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

18 million Afghans, half the country, need humanitarian assistance and roughly 3 million are internally displaced – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Abdul Subhan Misbah, chairman at Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR), said 75 per cent of Afghans currently live below the poverty line.

ACBAR is an organiser of the conference, along with the Zakat Foundation of America — a Chicago-based NGO that helps the needy in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

He also cited UN reports that said around 1 million children in Afghanistan could die from hunger.

"There is a crisis ongoing and this is all because of the sudden collapse of the government and failure of our leaders in the past as well as the international community," said Misbah.

He said the US put restrictions on the banking system and no aid organisation is allowed to send money to Afghanistan for humanitarian assistance.

"The US is silent and we want them at least to solve the problem of sending money for humanitarian purposes," he said.

READ: UK funded company with $1m to discourage Afghans from migrating, report reveals

Misbah also urged the US and Taliban to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan as soon as possible, saying time is running out and the situation there becomes more urgent.

Halil Demir, the executive director of the Zakat Foundation, told Anadolu Agency that the world wants to help Afghanistan but the financial ways are closed and the US refusal to recognise the Taliban government prevents humanitarian aid from reaching Afghanistan.

The banks are not ready for the help we want to give. This is the biggest problem right now. The lack of financial access to (banking) services is the problem of all of us

said Demir.

The US announced Tuesday more than $308 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan.

"This brings total US humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $782 million since October 2021, and we remain the single largest donor of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan," National Security Council spokeswoman, Emily Horne, said in a statement.

Afghanistan's plight is one of the world's most rapidly growing humanitarian crises, according to UN aid agencies.

The UN and its partners launched a more than $5 billion funding appeal Tuesday for Afghanistan.

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