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Desperate Afghans finally set to receive aid

Desperate Afghans finally set to receive aid

An Afghan municipality employee cleans the site of a blast in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, Dec.14, 2021. One person was killed and two others were injured as a blast rocked Police District 8 of Kabul city in Afghanistan on Tuesday, Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ezam said.(Photo: Xinhua)

The UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted a US-proposed resolution to help humanitarian aid reach desperate Afghans, while seeking to keep funds out of Taliban hands.

The resolution – a first step by the UN after months of wrangling over how to avert a humanitarian catastrophe amid economic meltdown in Afghanistan – was welcomed by the Islamists as a “good step.”

Since the Taliban swept back to power in August, billions of dollars in aid and assets have been frozen by the West in what the UN has described as an “unprecedented fiscal shock” to the aid-dependent Afghan economy.

For months now, observers have been warning that millions face a choice between starvation or migration during a combined food, fuel and cash crisis throughout the bitter winter.

The Security Council resolution allows aid to flow into the country for one year without violating international sanctions aimed at isolating the Taliban, whose regime is not recognized by the international community.

“We appreciate it [as] it can help Afghanistan’s economic situation,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, adding he hoped the international community would also “speed up” removal of crippling economic and banking sanctions imposed on entities linked to the group.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “UN sanctions are an important tool to respond to threats and human rights abuses, but we must make sure these sanctions do not hinder the delivery of urgently needed aid.”

The US also announced additional steps on Wednesday easing sanctions against the Taliban to allow aid, updating guidance to make clear that exports of goods and cash transfers are allowed as long as they do not go to individuals targeted by US sanctions.

In Afghanistan, aid workers may be involved in financial transactions with ministries headed by sanctioned individuals. The UN resolution ensures that the aid workers are not violating sanctions.

The text also includes monitoring of the destination of aid, as well as a UN report on the functioning of the assistance every six months.

It is possible to reverse the exemption if evidence shows it is being abused, a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity earlier this week.