The Taliban in power in Afghanistan is resisting United Nations efforts to help secure humanitarian funding in the country and is interfering with aid delivery, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Thursday.
Since the Taliban took power in August, when US-led forces withdrew after two decades of war, international banks have been wary of testing UN and US sanctions, leaving the United Nations and aid groups scrambling to deliver. enough money to carry out the operations.
“The formal banking system continues to block transfers due to excessive risk, impacting payment channels and causing supply chains to fail,” Griffiths told the 15-member Security Council.
The United Nations has been trying to kick-start a system – described as a Humanitarian Exchange Facility (HEF) – to exchange millions of dollars of aid for Afghan currency in a plan to stem aid and economic crises and circumvent Taliban leaders who are under sanctions.
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“We have seen limited progress due to resistance from de facto authorities. This is a problem that will not solve itself,” Griffiths said, adding that until Afghanistan’s formal banking system could function properly again, the United Nations needed to get the Humanitarian Exchange Facility up and running.
He said about half of aid groups recently surveyed by the United Nations reported difficulty transferring funds to Afghanistan, down from 87% in October, adding: “The direction of travel is positive, but the number remains alarming.”
Griffiths said that two-thirds of aid groups cited the lack of available money in Afghanistan as an impediment to their programs.
Taliban officials are also increasingly interfering with the delivery of humanitarian aid, despite a promise made to UN officials in September that they would not, Griffiths said.
“National and local authorities are increasingly looking to play a role in selecting beneficiaries and channeling assistance to people on their own priority lists, citing an almost universal level of need,” he said.
“We are also seeing more demands from the Taliban for data and information on budgets and personnel contracts,” he said, adding that aid groups “face ongoing difficulties when trying to hire Afghan women in certain roles.”
The Taliban could not immediately be reached for comment on Griffiths’ comments.
Griffiths said the United Nations received only a third of the $4.4 billion needed to meet humanitarian needs in Afghanistan in 2022. “We just don’t have enough funding,” he said.
The council met for its quarterly meeting on Afghanistan a day after an earthquake killed at least 1,000 people in a remote part of the country.
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