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World Bank announces more than USD1B in aid for Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The World Bank on Tuesday announced more than USD1 billion in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, stating the money will go to United Nations agencies and international NGOs while remaining “outside the control” of the country’s Taleban rulers.

The reallocation from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) follows the USD280 million in ARTF funds disbursed last December, and is aimed at supporting the humanitarian response over the critical winter months.

The funds, to be delivered in the form of grants, aim “to support the delivery of essential basic services, protect vulnerable Afghans, help preserve human capital and key economic and social services and reduce the need for humanitarian assistance in the future”, the Washington-based lender said in a statement.

The bank suspended its aid to Kabul late last August after the hardline Taleban swept back
into power.

ARTF is a multi-donor fund that coordinates international aid to improve the lives of millions of Afghans. It is administered by the World Bank on behalf of donor partners. Until the Taleban took over, the ARTF was the largest source of development funding for Afghanistan, financing up to 30 per cent of the government’s budget.

Because the World Bank is unable to provide money directly to the Taleban regime – which is not recognised by the international community – it has redirected the funds to organisations like UN childrens agency UNICEF in response to the humanitarian crisis.

Afghanistan’s population has faced food shortages and mounting poverty since the Taleban took over.

The objective of the new aid is to “protect vulnerable Afghans (and) help preserve human capital and key economic and social services”, the World Bank said.

The logo of the World Bank at the entrance to the building in Washington DC. PHOTO: AFP