To keep aid flowing to Afghanistan, US authorises certain transactions with Taliban

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Dec 23, 2021, 08:36 AM(IST)

The UN says that nearly 23 million people - about 55 per cent of the population - face extreme levels of hunger, and nearly 9 million are at risk of famine this winter. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Officials from the United States and certain international organisations, such as the United Nations, are allowed to participate in official business in transactions involving the Taliban or Haqqani Network under two of the licenses

In an effort to maintain the flow of aid to Afghanistan as it sinks deeper into a humanitarian crisis, on Wednesday the United States officially exempted from sanctions, US and UN officials doing permitted business with the Taliban.

As part of efforts to ease humanitarian aid flows into Afghanistan, the Treasury issued three general licenses on Wednesday.

Whether the move would pave the way for proposed UN payments of about $6 million to the Islamists for security was not clear.

Also read | UN proposes to pay nearly $6 million to Taliban for security

UN plans to pay monthly food allowances to Taliban-run personnel guarding UN facilities next year and to subsidise their salaries, a proposal that has raised questions about whether the payments would violate US sanctions.

Treasury officials declined to confirm whether the new license would exempt UN payments from US sanctions against the Taliban.

Since Washington has designated the Taliban as a terrorist organisation for years, it has frozen its assets and barred Americans from dealing with them.

Officials from the United States and certain international organisations, such as the United Nations, are allowed to participate in official business in transactions involving the Taliban or Haqqani Network under two of the licenses.

Another license allows non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to work on humanitarian projects, including those involving the Taliban and Haqqani Network, without violating US sanctions.

Also read | As Taliban govt resumed issuing passports, hundreds queue outside the office

According to a senior US administration official, the Taliban must take action to stave off a further economic contraction in Afghanistan.

"What we can attempt to do, what we're going to work to do, is to mitigate the humanitarian crisis by getting resources to the Afghan people, and these general licenses will allow us to allow organisations that are doing this work to do exactly that," the official told reporters.

Democratic President Joe Biden's administration was criticised by the top Republican on the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

The exemption "could result in using American taxpayer funds to reward, legitimise and enable the same Taliban that took power by force and has shown no interest in abiding by international norms," Representative Michael McCaul said in a statement.

The UN says that nearly 23 million people - about 55 per cent of the population - face extreme levels of hunger, and nearly 9 million are at risk of famine this winter.

Watch | UNSC adopts resolution to ease Afghan aid

"We will continue to support efforts by our partners to scale up assistance and deliver necessary relief during this moment of particular need," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

In a separate effort to deal with the crisis, the UN Security Council approved a resolution exempting donors, aid groups, and financial institutions that provide humanitarian assistance from UN asset freezes on Taliban leaders and associated entities.

The exemption is “solely for the provision of humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan which the council will review in one year,” Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a senior adviser to the US mission to the United Nations, said in urging approval of the measure.

(With inputs from agencies)

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