UN Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, has warned that a “total breakdown” of Afghanistan is imminent if the international community doesn’t give the country access to its own overseas financial assets that have been frozen since the August 15 Taliban victory over the US-led occupation force.
Nearly 10 billion dollars worth of Afghan funds are currently held abroad in frozen accounts, as a form of leverage to use against the new government. However, Lyons stated that “to prevent a total breakdown of the economy and social order”, this Afghan income must immediately be released.
“The economy must be allowed to breathe for a few more months, giving the Taliban a chance to demonstrate flexibility and a genuine will to do things differently this time, notably from a human rights, gender, and counterterrorism perspective,” Lyons said. Many foreign nations demand the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to “prove” itself before receiving access to the assets, with senior US diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis telling the Security Council that “The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support. Our message is simple: any legitimacy and support will have to be earned.”
However, the situation on the scene is that the currency rate has been plummeting, food prices have been rising sharply and the government is barely able to pay salaries to its own employees as a result of the econonomic sanctions. In a country ravaged by extreme poverty, an opioid addiction crisis and the results of 20 years of constant war, this means that millions of lives are at stake. As a side note, even during the period of US-controlled governments in Kabul between 2001 and 2021, over 75% of all of Afghan expenditure was in fact paid by foreign donors rather than by the national treasury. A recent UN report warned that Afghanistan could enter a state of “universal poverty” soon, as already around 72% of its population lives on dollar or less per day.
Both the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China have condemned the continued economic warfare against Afghanistan and called for the immediate release of Afghan funds.“These assets belong to Afghanistan and should be used for Afghanistan, not as leverage for threats or restraints,” China’s Deputy UN Ambassador Geng Shuang said recently. Both countries have contributed tens of millions in humanitarian aid to Kabul over the past few weeks.