U.S. Eases Restrictions on Sending Aid to Afghanistan

The United States on Dec. 22 eased restrictions on some humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, which faces famine amid a severe economic crisis following the Taliban takeover in August.

The Office of Foreign Assets of the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it issued three new general licenses that allow the U.S. government and international and humanitarian organizations to send more aid to Afghanistan without violating sanctions on terrorist groups, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

The three general licenses expand upon existing authorizations to include education, civil society development, and non-commercial development projects directly benefitting Afghans.

The Treasure Department also said that the general licenses help implement a U.S.-backed resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council to ensure that aid can urgently reach Afghans.

The Treasury Department noted that the general licenses explicitly do not authorize financial transfers to the Taliban or the Haqqani Network, except for the payment of taxes, fees, or import duties, or the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services of specified activities.

“The United States is the largest single provider of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. We are committed to supporting the people of Afghanistan, which is why Treasury is taking these additional steps to facilitate assistance,” Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said.

“Unfortunately, the economy faces grave challenges, exacerbated by the country’s long dependence on foreign aid, donor and private sector flight sparked by the Taliban’s takeover, drought, structural macroeconomic issues, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Treasury has provided broad authorizations that ensure [non-governmental organizations], international organizations, and the U.S. government can continue to provide relief to those in need,” Adeyemo further said.

The decision came nearly four months after the U.S. withdrew its troops from Afghanistan as the Taliban regained control over the South Asian country.

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