Biden orders $7B to be used by the Afghan government for humanitarian aid. Sept. 11 victims



President Joe Biden signed Friday’s order to release $7 billion US from Afghan assets that were frozen by the U.S. The money was split between humanitarian aid to Afghanistan’s poor and a fund for victims of the September 11 terror attacks, which left thousands dead and shocked the globe.

Biden’s order requires banks to transfer $3.5 billion US from the frozen funds to a trust account for distribution to humanitarian groups to aid Afghans and their basic needs. The $3.5 billion US remaining would be held in the U.S. to pay for lawsuits filed by U.S. terrorist victims who are still navigating the courts.

International funding for Afghanistan was stopped and billions in dollars of assets in Afghanistan, mostly in the U.S. were frozen following the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August.

The White House released a statement saying that the order is designed to help Afghans get the money they need while keeping them safe from terrorists and other malign actors.

Biden’s plan is designed to address a complex problem in which the U.S. has billions that belong to a country it doesn’t recognize. There are multiple appeals for the money, including one for Afghan families and those still traumatized by the 2001 terrorist attacks.

WATCH — The lingering health consequences of 9/11:| The lasting health effects of September 11, 2001: 

The lingering health effects of 9/11

More than just first responders were affected by the toxic dust and debris resulting from the 9/11 attacks. One woman is reliving the day in order to raise awareness about the compensation due victims who may still be experiencing health problems decades later. 2:06

The Biden administration responded to criticisms that $7 billion US should not be released to Afghanistan. They argued that 9/11 claimants in the U.S. legal systems have the right to their day before the court.

Months ago, the Justice Department indicated that it was ready to intervene in a federal suit brought by New York City families and victims of 9/11. Friday was the new deadline.

The family involved won a U.S. court judgement in 2012 against Taliban and other entities. However, other relatives of the victims have ongoing lawsuits regarding the attacks. Friday was urged by a New York-based lawyer representing approximately 500 families that all be treated equally in the fund.

The tailspin of the Afghan economy

Afghanistan’s troubled, long-running economy has been in crisis since the Taliban tookover. Nearly 80 percent of the budget for the previous government came from the international community.

This money was used to finance hospitals, schools and factories, as well as government ministries. This desperation has been further exacerbated due to the COVID-19 epidemic, which also caused shortages in health-care and drought, as well a malnutrition epidemic.

Aid groups warned of a possible humanitarian disaster. In the last few months, state employees have not been paid, including teachers, doctors, and administrative civil servants. The banks have restricted the amount of money that account holders can withdraw.

Mohammad Naeem (Taliban political spokesperson) criticized Biden’s decision to not release all funds for Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters were seen in Kabul on Friday (Hussein Malla/The Associated Press).

“Stealing and seizing the Afghan Nation’s Blocked Funds by the United States of America [of those funds] shows the lowest level of humanity … of a country and a nation,” Naeem tweeted on Friday.

The Taliban called for the international community’s assistance in preventing a humanitarian catastrophe by requesting funds to be released.

Afghanistan holds more than $9Billion US in reserves, which includes just over $7Billion US in US reserves. The remainder is located mainly in Germany, the United Arab Emirates, or Switzerland.

WATCH | Canada offers refuge to thousands of Afghans: 

Thousands of Afghans await refuge in Canada

Many thousands of Afghans still wait for visas to enter Canada after months of the Taliban takeover. So far, only about 7,000 refugees have reached Canada. 2:01

Although the Taliban were able to pay their salaries, they were unable to retain employees. In recent months, Afghans have been able to withdraw only $200 US weekly, only in Afghanis, not U.S. currency. 

They have made promises to open schools for girls following the Afghan new year at March 31, but humanitarian organizations claim that money is required to pay teachers.

In several provinces, universities for women are being reopened. The Taliban stated that the staggered opening of the universities will be completed by February 31st. This was a concession to international demands.

The United Nations last month issued an appeal for nearly $5 billion US, its largest ever appeal for one country, estimating that nearly 90 per cent of the country’s 38 million people were surviving below the poverty level of $1.90 US a day. The UN also warned that upward of a million children risked starvation.

David Miliband of the International Rescue Committee urged the release of funds to prevent famine at Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

“The humanitarian community did not choose the government, but that is no excuse to punish the people, and there is a middle course — to help the Afghan people without embracing the new government,” Miliband said.

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