Afghan Crisis

Afghanistan: Donors back release of $280 million in aid

Published : December 11, 2021 15:27 IST

Millions of Afghans are forced to choose between migration and starvation. Photo: Petros Giannakouris/AP/dpa/picture alliance

International donors have decided to transfer funds to two U.N. agencies to support nutrition and health in Afghanistan.

Donors to the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) agreed to release $280 million (€247 million) in aid to Afghanistan, the World Bank said on December 10, as it seeks to help the country facing famine and economic freefall. "This decision is the first step to repurpose funds in the ARTF portfolio to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan at this critical time," the bank said in a statement.

The money will be transferred from a frozen trust fund to two aid agencies — the World Food Program (WFP) and children's agency UNICEF — to support nutrition and health in Afghanistan. World Bank-administered ARTF will give $180 million to the World Food Program this year to scale up food security and nutrition operations and $100 million to UNICEF to provide essential health services, the World Bank said. The two agencies "have presence and logistics capacity on the ground in Afghanistan and will use these funds to cover financing gaps in their existing programs to deliver health and nutrition services directly to the Afghan people," the bank said.

Humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

The United Nations has repeatedly warned that Afghanistan is on the brink of the world's worst humanitarian crisis. About 22 million people – more than half its population – face acute food shortages as winter takes hold in the impoverished, landlocked country. The crisis accelerated in August when the Taliban overran the country as the Western-backed government collapsed following the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The United States and other donors cut off the country's financial aid on which it was dependent during the 20 years of war. The U.N. described the decision as an "unprecedented fiscal shock." Washington also froze the more than $9 billion of Afghanistan's hard currency assets, while the International Monetary Fund and World Bank halted its access to funding. Afghanistan's current crisis has been aggravated due to the effects of drought caused by global warming.

adi/wd (AFP, Reuters)

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