UN chief says Taliban interference in aid deliveries

UN chief says Taliban interference in aid deliveries

Muhammad Younus Muhmand, a representative of the Taliban movement sanctioned by the UN, attends the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 17, 2022, as a vice-chairman of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment. OLGA MALTSEVA AFP UN NATIONS Afghanistan's ruling Taliban are resisting efforts by the United Nations to help get humanitarian funding into the country and are interfering in the delivery of aid, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Thursday.

Since the hardline Islamist Taliban took over in August as US forces withdrew after two decades of war, international banks are wary of UN and US sanctions, leaving the United Nations and aid groups struggling to deliver enough cash to run operations.

Griffiths told the Security Council that the formal banking system continues to block transfers because of excessive de-risking, impacting payment channels and causing breakdowns in supply chains.

The United Nations is trying to kickstart a system called the Humanitarian Exchange Facility to swap millions of dollars for Afghan currency in a bid to stem aid and economic crises and bypass Taliban leaders who are under sanctions.

We have seen little progress because of the resistance of the de-facto authorities. Griffiths said that until Afghanistan's formal banking system can operate properly again, the United Nations needs to get the Humanitarian Exchange Facility up and running, because this is an issue that is not going to fix itself.

He said about half of the aid groups recently surveyed by the United Nations reported difficulty transferring funds into Afghanistan, down from 87 percent in October. Griffiths said two-thirds of the aid groups cited a lack of cash in Afghanistan as hindering their programs.

Despite a pledge to UN officials in September that they wouldn't, the Taliban authorities are increasingly interfering with the delivery of humanitarian aid, Griffiths said.

National and local authorities are increasingly seeking to play a role in the selection of beneficiaries and channeling assistance to people on their own priority lists, citing an almost universal level of need, he said.

He said aid groups are facing more difficulties as they try to hire Afghan women in certain functions and that they are seeing more demands from the Taliban for data and information regarding budget and staffing contracts. The Taliban could not be reached for comment on Griffiths remarks.

Griffiths said the United Nations had only received one-third of the $4.4 billion it needed to meet humanitarian needs in Afghanistan in 2022. He said that we simply don't have enough funding.

The council met for a quarterly meeting on Afghanistan a day after an earthquake killed 1,000 people in a remote part of the country.

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