United States (US) President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to release and split the Afghan assets worth $7 billion between humanitarian aid for war-torn Afghanistan and a fund for September 11 attacks victims, reports Associated Press (AP).
In a statement, Washington said, “The order is designed to provide a path for the funds to reach the people of Afghanistan while keeping them out of the hands of the Taliban and malicious actors.”
Half of the frozen assets worth $3.5 billion would go to trust funds for distribution through humanitarian groups for Afghan relief and basic needs. However, the other $3.5 billion would stay in the US and remain “subject to ongoing litigation by US victims of terrorism” as still, 9/11 victims’ relatives have ongoing lawsuits.
Moreover, the Biden administration states that the procedure for the release of Afghan assets will take months.
Afghanistan has more than $9 billion in reserves, including just over $7 billion in reserves held in the US. The rest is largely in Germany, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Switzerland. The amount is largely derived from donations by the US and other nations to Afghanistan.
In response, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem lashed out at the US. He tweeted, “The theft and seizure of money frozen by the United States of the Afghan people represent the lowest level of the human and moral decay of a country and a nation.”
Twitterati criticised Biden’s decision and urged the US to release the funds to prevent famine in Afghanistan. Presently, the country is facing a major humanitarian crisis.
It is pertinent to mention that Afghanistan’s economy is on the verge of collapse. The United Nations (UN) has said 96 per cent of Afghans could fall into poverty in 2022.