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SIGAR finds Ghani and his advisors fled the country with less than $1 million

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(Last Updated On: June 8, 2022)

Washington’s oversight authority on Afghanistan reconstruction has found that allegations of theft of millions of dollars of cash by former president Ashraf Ghani and his senior advisors, at the time of their hurried departure, are likely untrue.

In the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) interim report on the theft of funds, which was published on Tuesday, the investigative team found that while some cash was taken from the grounds of the palace and loaded onto helicopters, that carried Ghani, his wife Rula, and senior staff members to Uzbekistan, evidence indicates that the amount of cash on board did not exceed $1 million and may have been closer in value to $500,000.

SIGAR also identified suspicious circumstances in which approximately $5 million in cash was allegedly left behind at the presidential palace. “The origins and purpose of this money are disputed, but it was supposedly divided by members of the Presidential Protective Service” after the helicopters departed but before the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) captured the palace. 

SIGAR examined other examples of alleged theft by senior Afghan officials as the government collapsed, including tens of millions of dollars from the operating budget of the National Directorate of Security.

Although there appears to have been ample opportunity and effort to plunder Afghan government coffers, “at this time SIGAR does not have sufficient evidence to determine with certainty whether hundreds of millions of dollars were removed from the country by Afghan officials as the government collapsed or whether any stolen money was provided by the United States,” the report read.

According to SIGAR, this is an interim report, as they are still waiting for responses to questions sent to Ghani.

“If forthcoming, those answers will be incorporated into a final report,” SIGAR stated.

Following the collapse of the former Afghan government, allegations were made that Ghani and his senior advisors fled Afghanistan with millions of dollars in cash loaded onto the helicopters that carried them from the presidential palace to Termez, Uzbekistan, on the afternoon of August 15, 2021.

“The hurried nature of their departure, the emphasis on passengers over cargo, the payload and performance limitations of the helicopters, and the consistent alignment in detailed accounts from witnesses on the ground and in the air all suggest that there was little more than $500,000 in cash on board the helicopters,” read the report. 

“That being said, it is likely that significant amounts of U.S. currency disappeared from Afghan government property in the chaos of the Taliban (IEA) takeover –  including $5million taken from the presidential palace and tens of millions taken from the vault at the National Directorate of Security,” SIGAR stated.

“Attempts to loot other government funds appear to have been common. Yet with Afghan government records and surveillance videos from those final days likely in Taliban (IEA) hands, SIGAR is currently unable to determine how much money was ultimately stolen, and by whom,” the report stated.

The Russian embassy in Kabul asserted in late August that there was $169 million on board the helicopters, and two days later the Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, Zahir Aghbar, echoed these claims in a press conference.

Aghbar also vowed to file a request with Interpol to arrest Ghani. However, Aghbar declined to sit for an interview with SIGAR or provide any evidence substantiating this claim.

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Afghanistan announces aid for quake-hit Turkey and Syria

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Tuesday announced AFN 15 million (approx. $166,000 USD) in humanitarian aid for people affected by recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Of the total, AFN 10 million (approx. $111,000) will be for Turkey, and AFN 5 million (approx. $55,000) will be for Syria.

The Foreign Ministry in a statement said that IEA stands in solidarity with its brothers and sisters in this time of hardship.

It added that the aid is on the basis of “shared humanity and Islamic brotherhood.”

The statement also said that IEA emergency response and health teams stand ready to participate in rescue operations to assist the affected people if called upon.

The ministry instructed its diplomatic mission in Turkey to not spare any efforts in assisting the victims, and urged Turkey-based Afghan citizens to help with the relief efforts.

Thousands have been killed in Monday’s earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a three-month state of emergency across 10 provinces worst affected by the earthquakes.

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28 million Afghans are in dire need of humanitarian aid: UNICEF

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced that Afghanistan needs immediate humanitarian aid.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi on Monday said that Afghanistan is experiencing the worst period over the past two decades.

Abdi said on Twitter that humanitarian needs are felt now more than ever before in Afghanistan, and has warned that disruptions of aid will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the war-torn country, already plagued with critical challenges.

“Some 28 million Afghans are in dire need of humanitarian aid, which needs the immediate attention of the international community, partners, and Taliban’s caretaker government,” Abdi said.

During his visit with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore reiterated that the organization is committed to carrying on its much-needed operations in the areas of education, healthcare, and children’s vaccinations in Afghanistan.

Previously, UNICEF announced that Afghanistan is among the eight most hunger-hit countries in the world.

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Iran’s top security official leaves for Russia to attend Afghanistan meeting

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani has left the country for Russia to attend a summit that will focus on the political, economic and security situation in Afghanistan.

Shamkhani will join top security officials from Central Asian countries, Pakistan, India and China for a meeting planned for Wednesday in the Russian capital Moscow as part of the fifth round of the multilateral talks on Afghanistan.

The previous edition of the conference had been held in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe in May 2022.

Indian capital of New Delhi had hosted the third round of the initiative in 2021 two years after it was launched in Tehran.

Shamkhani is also scheduled to hold meetings with his counterparts from other countries, including Russia’s top security official.

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