KABUL (Pajhwok): Rules and conditions squeezing Afghanistan’s economy and impeding lifesaving operations in the impoverished country need to be suspended, says the UN secretary-general.
Addressing a UN Security Council session on the dire situation in Afghanistan late on Wednesday, the secretary-general urged member states to review these rules and regulations.
Antonio Guterres also called for the release of $9.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves that were frozen by the US and its allies after the Taliban returned to power in August last year.
Reuters quoted him as saying: “We need to jump-start Afghanistan’s economy through increased liquidity. We must pull the economy back from the brink. This means finding ways to free up frozen currency reserves …”
The world body says it needs $3.6 billion to facilitate the delivery of health and education services, basic infrastructure development, promotion of livelihoods and social cohesion.
The UN chief asked the international community to boost humanitarian aid for millions of Afghans living in what he called a “frozen hell” and unblock the country’s frozen assets.
“Time is of the essence. Without action, lives will be lost, and despair and extremism will grow,” Guterres said, making a pitch for restoring liquidity to the Afghan economy.
According to the Associated Press, he underlined the need for finding ways to inject money, including allowing global funds to pay the salaries of doctors, teachers, sanitation workers, electricians and other civil servants.
His call drew instant support from China and Russia, which also demanded the unblocking of the Afghan assets to help Kabul overcome the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador, said the Biden administration was looking at various options to ease the liquidity crunch.
She said the US remained the largest aid provider to Afghanistan. However, she acknowledged that “much more support from the international community will be required to meet the extraordinary level of need the Afghan people are experiencing.”
Guterres told the 15-member council: “First and most urgently, we need to scale up our humanitarian operations to save lives … Afghanistan is hanging by a thread.”
H went on to urge the Taliban to work closely with the global community to suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan and build institutions that promoted security.