Donors, including the United States, are expected to allow the transfer of $ 280 million from a frozen trust fund to two aid organizations to help Afghanistan cope with its humanitarian crisis, five sources familiar with the matter said Friday.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that so far there had been no objections to the transfer to the World Food Program (WFP) and UNICEF from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which is administered by the World Bank.
Any of the 31 ARTF donors, of which the United States is the largest, could block the transfer by objecting. A State Department spokesman confirmed that the United States would not oppose the transfer.
The money would increase food security and health programs in Afghanistan as it sinks into a severe economic and humanitarian crisis that accelerated in August as the Taliban overpowered the country as the Western-backed government collapsed and the last U.S. troops withdrew.
The United States and other donors cut off economic aid, which Afghanistan became dependent on during 20 years of war, and more than $ 9 billion of the country’s hard currency assets were frozen.
The UN warns that nearly 23 million people – about 55 percent of the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine when winter takes hold of the poor, homeland.
Spending money from the ARTF and channeling it through WFP and UNICEF, both part of the UN family, seems to be a way to get funds into the country for basic needs in a way that does not necessarily imply US sanctions.
Reuters reported exclusively on December 1 that the World Bank’s Board of Directors had supported the transfer of the $ 280 million from ARTF to the two agencies.
A source said an ARTF steering committee had approved the transfer on December 3, allowing the trust fund donors until Friday to register any objection.
Four sources with knowledge of the case said none of the donors were expected to protest, paving the way for the transfer.
“It would be a surprise to many people if anyone objected,” said one of the sources.
Laurel Miller, a former acting US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, criticized the decision to use the ARTF for strict humanitarian aid, saying that money should come from other sources and that the 1.5 billion fund. USD should be used for a major initiative to stop the collapse of state institutions whose workers have not been paid for several months.
“We are talking about a collapse of public services that serve the Afghan people,” said Miller, who oversees the Asia program for the International Crisis Group, a think tank. “It is not about helping the Taliban. It is about helping Afghans who need a functioning state. They need more than food aid.”
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise overview of today’s most important headlines. Sign up today.