The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Tuesday it has approved $405 million in grants to support food security and help sustain the delivery of essential health and education services for the Afghan people.
According to a statement issued by the ADB, under its Sustaining Essential Services Delivery Project (Support for Afghan People), ADB will provide direct financing to four United Nations (UN) agencies operating in Afghanistan.
This is for immediate humanitarian support in response to the unprecedented crisis and to help sustain the country’s human development, the statement read.
According to UN estimates, 22.8 million people are at risk of acute food insecurity.
These funds will enable the provision of emergency food to over 800,000 people and farm inputs, fertilizers, or small farm equipment to around 390,000 households. Around 168,000 people will be covered under food-for-work and cash-for-work programs.
In addition, $200 million will go towards maintaining basic health care and essential hospital services, covering a target population of about 5.3 million people, and the procurement and deployment of 2.3 million single-dose COVID-19 vaccines.
Other initiatives will also be driven through the use of the grant money that includes community-based education classes, for boys and girls; and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will monitor project implementation, undertake macroeconomic and social assessments in the country, and assess the impact of ADB’s assistance.
IEA calls for release of frozen funds following deadly earthquake
Afghanistan’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has called on international governments to roll back sanctions and lift a freeze on central bank assets following the earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and left thousands homeless.
The 6.1-magnitude quake that struck the east of the country early on Wednesday destroyed or damaged 10,000 homes and injured about 2,000 people.
“The Islamic Emirate is asking the world to give the Afghans their most basic right, which is their right to life and that is through lifting the sanctions and unfreezing our assets and also giving assistance,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, foreign affairs ministry spokesman, told Reuters in an interview.
While humanitarian aid continues to flow to Afghanistan, funds needed for longer-term development were halted when the IEA seized control of the country in August 2021 as foreign forces withdrew.
Billions of U.S. dollars in Afghan central bank reserves remain frozen overseas and sanctions hamper the banking sector as the West pushes for concessions on human rights.
Western governments are particularly concerned about the rights of women and girls to work under IEArule.
Asked about the issue, Balkhi said Afghans’ right to life-saving funds should be the priority, adding that the international community handled concerns over human rights differently depending on the country involved.
“Is this rule universal? Because the United States just passed an anti-abortion law,” Balkhi said, referring to the Supreme Court’s overturning on Friday of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised a woman’s right to an abortion.
“Sixteen countries in the world have taken away the rights of religious minorities, especially Muslims … are they also facing sanctions because they are violating rights?,” he asked.
White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Saturday the U.S. government was working on “complicated questions about the use of these (frozen central bank) funds to ensure they benefit the people of Afghanistan and not the Taliban (IEA).”
IEA’s supreme leader meets traders and manufacturers in Kandahar
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, met with dozens of traders and manufacturers in southern Kandahar province on Monday.
During the meeting, Akhundzada called on the private sector to take effective steps for development and independence of Afghanistan’s economy, state-run news agency Bakhtar reported.
He said that the IEA is committed to resolving problems that traders and manufacturers are facing.
“We welcome the Amir-ul-Mominin’s move. The private sector representatives are now fully assured that IEA supports them and they can invest freely in Afghanistan,” said Abdul Nasir Reshtya, a member of the Chamber of Industries and Mines.
Economic experts believe the smaller the gap between the private sector and the government, the more chance the private sector will have to develop and there will be greater interest in investing in Afghanistan.
“We welcome such meetings. It could encourage the private sector to invest in the country with full security assurance,” said Shabir Ahmad Bashiri, an economic expert.
IEA has held several meetings with members of the private sector in the past 10 months.
Recently, the IEA, under the guidance of acting deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar, who also heads the economic commission, established the new state-run investment company called Afghan Invest.
Officials said Afghan Invest, a limited liability company, with a capital of $250 million, was recently inaugurated as a result of Baradar’s efforts.
IEA calls on Afghans at home and abroad to invest in new state-run initiative
First Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said Sunday the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is working on an economic policy that will help restore the economy and lift the country out of poverty.
Speaking at an event to launch a new state-run limited liability company, Afghan Invest, Baradar called on Afghans to bring their foreign-based capital back into the country and invest in the new initiative.
According to the IEA, 13 investors have already collectively invested $250 million.
Baradar said at the launch that Afghanistan is potentially an extremely wealthy country given the enormous, largely untapped, mineral reserves.
“Our country is very rich in terms of mines. Afghan investors if they have capital abroad, must relocate it to their home country, we support you. Trade is vital for a country,” said Baradar.
He also stressed that the government’s doors are open to all businessmen and that the IEA will support them. He said he hoped that businessmen across all ethnic lines in the country would invest in the new company.
Acting Minister of Commerce and Industry Nooruddin Azizi, who also attended the launch, said the only way to save Afghanistan from its current crisis was for Afghans to work together.
“The only solution to our country’s economic problems is for Afghans to work together and make sincere efforts,” said Azizi.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, said that it was because of the sacrifices of the people’s jihad that neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran live in peace. He said the world should respect this.
“Not only did we liberate our country, but we also freed the countries in the region from aggressors,” said Stanikzai, at the event.
“We have a proud, and free Afghanistan, which we must protect and safeguard,” he added.
Afghan Invest officials said the aim of the company is to establish economic stability and encourage investment in the country. This includes investment across a broad range of sectors such as agriculture, mining, energy production and infrastructure development.
Cabinet members meanwhile said that with the return to power of the IEA, national sovereignty, national security and national integrity have been restored and that the new authorities will support investors.
Economic experts believe that the establishment of such ventures can have a positive impact on the country’s economy, and that foreign investors could be encouraged to invest in the country.
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