- Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
The Taliban (under UN sanctions for terrorist activities) stormed to power in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, as US-led forces withdrew from the country after 20 years of occupation.

Bernie Sanders Urges Biden to Unfreeze Kabul's Funds to Prevent 'Death of Millions of People'

© SETH HERALDUS Senator Bernie Sanders gestures as he speaks to striking Kellogg's workers in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan, on December 17, 2021.
US Senator Bernie Sanders gestures as he speaks to striking Kellogg's workers in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan, on December 17, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.01.2022
The US froze nearly $10 billion of Afghanistan’s assets, held at the New York Federal Reserve Bank, in August last year, after the Taliban seized power in the central Asian nation. Around the same time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank also withheld hundreds of millions of dollars of routine aid payments to the country.
US Senator Bernie Sanders has urged the Joe Biden administration to "immediately release" billions of dollars of Afghanistan's frozen assets to avert a "crisis" in the central Asian nation and prevent millions of people from dying from hunger and malnutrition.
The appeal by the 80-year-old Democrat-leaning senator from Vermont comes just a few days after United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres called upon Washington and the World Bank to work towards “injecting liquidity” into Afghanistan’s financial system.
Guterres warned last week that the Taliban-controlled nation was on the brink of “a meltdown that would lead to poverty, hunger and destitution for millions.”
Last month, a group of 46 House Democrats, led by Pramila Jayapal had asked the Biden administration in a letter to modify the US’ policy on the freezing of Afghanistan’s assets.
“We fear, as aid groups do, that maintaining this policy could cause more civilian deaths in the coming year than were lost in 20 years of war," said the letter.
Major international aid agencies, including the UN-backed World Food Programme (WFP), have been warning that Washington’s decision to freeze Afghanistan’s federal funds has fed into an inflationary crisis and drought, all of which threaten nearly 23 million Afghans with “acute hunger”.
The WFP has further reckoned that nearly 3 million children in Afghanistan are suffering from malnutrition.
Last month, the world's largest humanitarian organisation claimed that it would require $220 million every month to deliver food aid to Afghans at risk of malnutrition and starvation.
Troika Plus Meeting on Afghanistan on 11 November 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.11.2021
UN Warns of Afghanistan's Colossal Collapse as US Keeps Funds Frozen
For its part, the Biden administration has linked the unfreezing of Afghanistan’s funds to the Taliban making good on the commitments made during the signing of the Doha Peace Deal, including forming an inclusive government with representation of all major ethnic groups and respecting the rights of women as well as other minorities.
Still, the US and other global institutions have made several relaxations to the flow of funds to Afghanistan in view of concerns around an impending humanitarian catastrophe.
The World Bank said in a statement last month that it would release $280 million to the WFP and UNICEF, the two aid agencies working in Afghanistan, in order to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the Afghan population.

“UNICEF will receive $100 million to provide essential health services through providers active in the Sehatmandi programme (rolling out aid through partner NGOs) in partnership with WHO, and WFP will receive $180 million to scale up food security and nutrition operations in the country,” the statement from the World Bank read.

In December, the UN Security Council also unanimously adopted a resolution authorising the allocation of funds from Afghanistan’s frozen assets to deliver humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
Days after the UNSC resolution was adopted, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at his year-end press conference on 31 December that “injecting liquidity” into Afghanistan’s financial system was one of the priorities of the Biden administration going into 2022.
Other powers such as Russia and China have called upon the Western countries to provide assistance to the Afghan people.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China headquarters - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.11.2021
China Urges US to Immediately Unfreeze Afghanistan's Foreign Assets, Foreign Ministry Says
Russian President Vladimir Putin cautioned at his annual press conference last month that the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan could have consequences for neighbouring countries.
“Now, it is necessary to provide assistance to the Afghan people. And this should be done, first of all, by those countries, which have caused such enormous damage to the Afghan economy and society. Those who have been there for 20 years, destroying the economy, need to provide assistance first," stated Putin.
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