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Tell President Biden: Unfreeze Afghan Fund and Provide More Humanitarian Aid

We are writing to President Biden about the severe economic crisis in Afghanistan, and measures that his administration should take to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people. One is to unfreeze the Afghan central bank funds being held in the U.S. and the other is to fill the $2 billion gap in the UN humanitarian aid appeal.

President Biden,

We are writing to you about the severe economic crisis in Afghanistan, and measures that your administration should take to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people. One is to unfreeze the Afghan central bank funds being held in the U.S. and the other is to fill the $2 billion gap in the UN humanitarian aid appeal. 

We disagree with your decision to split the $7 billion in Afghan central bank assets, with half held for possible compensation in a court case by 9/11 families and the other half to be returned to Afghanistan in some undetermined form at some undermined time. It is clear that ALL of Afghanistan’s central bank funds should be returned to Afghanistan’s Central Bank immediately. 

The freezing of Afghan central bank funds has contributed to the Afghan economy’s plunge into freefall. Afghans have not been able to withdraw their savings, salaries have not been paid, and businesses are going bankrupt. With millions of Afghans unemployed and hungry, these funds are critical to get the economy moving again. 

Your decision has been denounced by the Board of Afghanistan’s Central Bank, has infuriated Afghans both inside and outside the country, and has been criticized by human rights groups, members of the U.S. Congress, think tanks, legal organizations and even 9/11 families.

If your concern is that the Taliban might misuse the money, banking professionals have proposed releasing the money in monthly tranches. Monitors would check exactly where that money goes and what is done with it. The moment anything seems improper, a freeze could instantly be reinstituted.

In addition to reviving the Afghan economy, there is a need to address the immediate humanitarian crisis. The UN has put out an urgent appeal for $4.4 billion and an international pledging conference on March 31 fell short by $2 billion. The United States is indeed the largest donor, pledging a total of just over $500 million. But you, Mr. President, told the American public that the U.S. had been spending $300 million a day in Afghanistan for 20 years of war and occupation. Surely it is not too much to ask that the U.S. spend less than the equivalent of one week, $2 billion, to fill the gap in the UN appeal. 

Letting Afghanistan slide into total economic ruin will have devastating consequences. Children will die. More and more Afghans will flee the country, furthering the brain drain and fueling the refugee crisis. And terrorist groups will find fertile ground for the recruitment of young, disenfranchised men. 

The Afghan people deserve better after four decades of war. That is why we call on you to return the $7 billion to Afghanistan’s Central Bank and to provide the humanitarian funds needed to avert famine. 

Sincerely,  

 

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