KABUL: The World Bank on Tuesday approved a plan allowing to use of more than one billion of the frozen Afghan assets to finance immediate education, agriculture, health, and family sectors as Afghanistan is scrambling with a fractured economic state.
The plan, which will bypass sanctioned Islamic Emirate authorities by disbursing the money through UN agencies and international aid groups, will provide a major boost to efforts to ease the country’s worsening humanitarian and economic crises.
According to a statement of the World Bank, the approach “aims to support the delivery of essential basic services, protect vulnerable Afghans, help preserve human capital and key economic and social services, and reduce the need for humanitarian assistance in the future.”
Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) was frozen in August with the Islamic Emirate forces swept into power amid departure of as the last US-led international troops after 20-year of military presence in Afghanistan that left hundreds of thousands of Afghans dead and wounded as well as scores of American NATO forces killed.
Foreign governments ended financial aid constituting more than 70% of government expenditures while the United States led in the freezing of some $9 billion in Afghan central bank funds.
The funding cuts accelerated an economic collapse, fueling a cash crunch and deepening a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations says has pushed more than half of Afghanistan’s population of 39 million to the verge of starvation.
The World Bank statement said that as a first step, ARTF donors will decide on four projects worth about $600 million that will support “urgent needs in education, health and agricultural sectors, as well as community livelihoods.”