Connect with us

Latest News

U.N. aims to launch new Afghanistan cash route in February



(Last Updated On: February 11, 2022)

The United Nations aims to kick start this month a system to swap millions of aid dollars for Afghan currency in a plan to stem humanitarian and economic crises and bypass blacklisted Taliban leaders, according to an internal U.N. note seen by Reuters.

Since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover in August, foreign financial assistance has stopped and international banks are wary of testing U.N. and U.S. sanctions on the IEA, leaving the United Nations and aid groups struggling to obtain cash even as they continue to receive humanitarian donations.

The U.N. explanatory note, written last month, outlines an “urgently needed” Humanitarian Exchange Facility (HEF). The United Nations has warned that more than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million people are suffering extreme hunger and the economy, education and social services are collapsing.

“The overall objective is to have the HEF up and running in February,” the note said. “Prior to the full establishment of the facility, we seek to facilitate several trial swaps, to demonstrate exactly how the mechanism will work.”

U.N. and humanitarian officials warn that the facility can be only a temporary measure until Afghanistan’s central bank begins operating independently and some $9 billion in foreign reserves frozen abroad are released.

But when that could happen is uncertain. The reserves held by the United States are tied up in legal action and Western governments are reluctant to release funds unless they see the IEA show greater respect for human rights, especially those of women and girls.

The HEF would allow the United Nations – which is seeking $4.4 billion for humanitarian assistance this year – and aid groups access to large amounts of the national currency, the afghani, held in the country by private businesses.

In exchange, the United Nations would use aid dollars – potentially tens of millions – to pay the businesses’ foreign creditors, thereby bolstering the flagging private sector and critical imports.

“The facility’s flow of funds would not require the movement of funds across the Afghan border,” the U.N. note said.

While the money bypasses the IEA, the note says the HEF will need the approval of the IEA-run central bank for “the flow of funds and the exchange rate used and the withdrawal of AFN cash deposited into AIB (Afghanistan International Bank) without any restriction.”

A spokesman for the IEA care-taker government confirmed that officials in Afghanistan were aware of the proposal for the HEF, but did not know the details or the procedure.

“We welcome any kind of humanitarian actions for the people of Afghanistan, but all actions should be taken according to Afghanistan’s laws and national interests,” Bilal Karimi told Reuters on Friday in response to a question on the HEF.

The United Nations does not comment on leaked documents, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said of the note. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said Afghanistan is “hanging by a thread” and long pushed for international action to combat the economic crisis hampering aid efforts.

Afghanistan’s economy has continued to deteriorate, with inflation for basic household goods reaching nearly 42% in January, compared to the year-earlier period, the World Bank said on Wednesday. Wages and demand for labor continued to decline, as did imports, which were down 66% compared to a year earlier, it said.

Aid groups and U.N. officials have been advocating for a cash swap mechanism, but the U.N. note seen by Reuters provides new details on how it will work.

Graeme Smith, a senior consultant for the International Crisis Group think-tank, told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that an exchange facility is needed quickly, but only as a stopgap measure.

“It is not sufficient,” he said. “Nobody should be under any illusions that this substitutes for the normal functioning of a central bank.”

Complicating the response, IEA leaders have banned the use of foreign currency in a country where U.S. dollars were common. The United Nations has flown in shipments of $100 bills, but the central bank has not converted them, leaving the world body sitting on about $135 million in cash that it cannot use, a U.N. official said last week.

Those funds are held in Kabul in the vaults of AIB, the official said, the private bank that would play a role in the new cash swap system.

The security of the cash flights and limits on how much can be delivered are key reasons for starting the new exchange facility, the note said.

World Bank and U.N. officials have been working to finalize the HEF, including completing a risk assessment, seeking a U.S. Treasury license to protect international banks from sanctions, and hiring a private company to vet participants and guard against money-laundering, the note said.

David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee, said the consequences of Afghanistan’s economic crisis could be devastating, and he called for a change in U.S. and international policy toward the country.

He told the Senate committee on Wednesday: “Current policy will indeed mean that a starvation crisis kills … more Afghans than the past 20 years of war.”

Latest News

Muttaqi leaves for China to attend Trans-Himalaya Forum



(Last Updated On: October 3, 2023)

Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi left Kabul for China to participate in the third Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation, it was announced Tuesday.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman for Foreign Ministry, said on X that Muttaqi had received an official invitation from China.

Deputy Minister of Economy Abdul Latif Nazari and a number of other officials of the Islamic Emirate are accompanying Muttaqi in the visit.

Ahmad said that in the meeting, the countries surrounding the Himalayas will discuss economic cooperation, regional connectivity and ecological changes.

He added that the Islamic Emirate delegation will also have a bilateral meetings with the Foreign Minister of China and representatives of other countries on the sidelines of the forum.

Continue Reading

Latest News

Pakistan tightens entry rules for Afghan travelers



(Last Updated On: October 3, 2023)

Pakistan has decided that all citizens of neighboring Afghanistan will be required to enter the country with a valid passport and visa starting next month, similar to travelers from other countries, VOA reported on Monday.

The “one document regime” policy will replace the decades-old practice of granting special travel permits to individuals with divided tribes straddling the Durand Line.

The “passport as the only traveling document is going to be implemented from November 1, 2023,” according to an official federal directive sent to immigration authorities at all Afghan border crossings.

“No other document shall be accepted to travel from Afghanistan to Pakistan,” the document said. 

The Pakistani government has yet to make a formal announcement about the new policy. 

VOA cited a senior Pakistani official as saying that Islamabad hopes the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) would cooperate in implementing the “one document regime” decision to help deter illegal crossers, including militants and smugglers.

The IEA did not immediately comment on the new travel requirements.

The new policy comes amid a nationwide crackdown on Afghans living illegally in Pakistan or not renewing their visas.

Last Thursday, Pakistani caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani announced that his government would deport illegal Afghan and other foreign immigrants.

Continue Reading

Latest News

Foreign tourists flock to Helmand to visit its historical sites



(Last Updated On: October 3, 2023)

With the emergence of security in Afghanistan, foreign tourists are starting to visit Afghanistan to see its historical sites that have been out of reach for travelers for decades.

A group of tourists visiting Lashkargah in Helmand province were awestruck by the 3,000 year old Qala-e-Bost, which is famous for its 11th century arch. The arch is part of the remains of a mosque.

The group of 11 people from Germany, America, New Zealand and South Africa, included five women, who all welcomed the opportunity to visit the fort and other historical sites in the country.

The tourists said it was a good time for people to visit Afghanistan given that peace has been established.

“Afghanistan is a rich country in terms of minerals, they should work for their people and country, in order to save themselves” from being dependent on other countries, said a tourist from South Africa.

“I am happy that I visited Bost Fort and some other historical areas of this historical province with my friends,” said an American tourist.

At the same time, the head of culture and tourism of the Department of Information and Culture, Mawlavi Sultan Muhammad Hanif, said that since the takeover of the Islamic Emirate, many tourists from different countries have come to this province.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2022 Ariana News. All rights reserved!