KABUL, Afghanistan — The United Nations has criticized Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled central bank for “misleading and unhelpful” statements about cash for humanitarian work. It comes amid growing tensions between the world body and country leaders over bans on women’s education and employment.
The UN is using the money mainly to provide critical humanitarian aid to millions of Afghans who have been left cash-strapped by bank failures since the Taliban seized power in August 2021.
Foreign aid was suspended after the inspection. World governments have imposed sanctions, halted bank transfers and frozen billions in Afghan currency reserves, unwilling to work with the Taliban, given their power in the late 1990s and refusal to educate girls and allow women to work.
The Taliban have for the past 18 months banned women from education beyond the sixth form, including university, from public places and from most jobs.
More recently, they banned women from working in national and international non-governmental organizations. It has been condemned by the United Nations, aid agencies and foreign governments, and has raised fears that Afghans will suffer and even die if female workers continue to be excluded from humanitarian work. The Taliban show no signs of rescinding these decrees, despite repeated calls to do so and visits by UN and other foreign dignitaries.
Their chief spokesman says the authorities will not allow un-Islamic activities in Afghanistan and that politics must stay away from humanitarian aid.
In Afghanistan, the United Nations issued a statement late Saturday in response to a tweet from the Taliban-controlled central bank that said the $40 million package had been deposited in a commercial bank in the Afghan capital, Kabul. It posted a photo of the cash.
“Da Afghanistan Bank (Afghanistan’s central bank) appreciates any principled move that will bring currency to the country and help the needy in society,” the tweet said.
But the UN said its cash is placed in designated private bank accounts and distributed directly to its agencies and a small number of “approved and vetted” humanitarian partners in Afghanistan.
“None of the cash taken is kept in the Central Bank of Afghanistan and is not provided to the Taliban de facto authorities by the United Nations,” the world body said in a statement. “Statements of non-member organizations of the United Nations about the United Nations. fund deliveries are misleading & unhelpful”.
Since December 2021, the United Nations has provided around $1.8 billion in funding for the UN and its partners to carry out their work.
It says the cash brought into Afghanistan is commensurate with the UN’s humanitarian aid program in Afghanistan.
“If the UN is able to provide the volume of aid, the amount of cash being sent will decrease,” the UN said.
It says the cash transfer mechanism has been essential to saving the lives of more than 25 million Afghans.