U.S. Treasury Enables United Nations, Other Groups to Send Aid to Afghanistan

The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday that organizations like the United Nations would be authorized to offer humanitarian assistance and aid to Afghanistan. The middle eastern nation's economy collapsed after the Taliban seized power in August, but the U.S. and other nations have frozen or blocked key support pipelines as they refuse to recognize the group as the legitimate administration.

The Biden administration has been grappling with how to provide aid to the Afghan people without directly giving monetary assistance to the Taliban government. The U.S. ousted the Taliban from leadership in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and fought to keep it that way, but the Taliban returned in force as the U.S. was pulling out of the nation to end the 20-year war.

The U.S. government has designated the Taliban and Haqqani network as terrorists. Both American and international sanctions were imposed to restrict the Taliban leadership's access to the global institutions and international aid that previously helped support the country's economy and the former U.S.-friendly government.

Faced with the growing humanitarian crisis, the Treasury Department is now easing some of the restrictions regarding Afghanistan. It will be issuing special licenses that will permit the U.S. government, international organizations like the U.N. and nongovernmental organizations to work in the nation and provide humanitarian assistance despite the sanctions.

Afghans living in other countries were also recently authorized to send money back to family members still living in Afghanistan.

"The United States is the largest single provider of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan," Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo in a statement. "We are committed to supporting the people of Afghanistan."

"Unfortunately, the economy faces grave challenges, exacerbated by the country's long dependence on foreign aid, donor and private sector flight sparked by the Taliban's takeover, drought, structural macroeconomic issues, and the COVID-19 pandemic," he added.

Treasury Enables Afghanistan Aid
The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday that some organizations like the United Nations would be authorized to offer humanitarian assistance and aid to Afghanistan. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo speaks before the Senate Finance Committee during his confirmation hearing to be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Greg Nash/Pool via AP

As much as 80 percent of Afghanistan's budget comes from the international community. Without greater access to foreign money, the Afghan economy is likely to contract by about 30 percent this year — furthering the humanitarian crisis.

The State Department said the U.S. government plans to provide Afghanistan with an additional 1 million vaccine doses in the coming weeks. That brings the total U.S. donation for Afghanistan to 4.3 million doses, though the country has an estimated population of about 40 million.

Earlier in December, the U.S. government worked to transfer $280 million from the World Bank's Afghanistan reconstruction trust fund to U.N. organizations to address health and nutrition needs in the country.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Afghanistan Aid
Afghanistan's economy collapsed after the Taliban seized power and the U.S. completed its troop withdrawal in August. A boy flies a kite on Tape Nadir Khan hill in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, December 4 , 2021. Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo