International donors to transfer $280m to WFP, UNICEF for Afghanistan aid

International donors to transfer $280m to WFP, UNICEF for Afghanistan aid

Dec 11, 2021: Global donors have agreed to transfer $280 million from the Frozen Trust Fund to support nutrition and health in Afghanistan to the World Food Program (WFP) and UNICEF, the World Bank said.

The World Bank-administered Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund will provide $180 million to the WFP this year to enhance food security and nutrition work, and $100m to provide essential health services to UNICEF, the bank said in a statement on Friday.

“These ARTF funds will enable UNICEF to provide 12.5 million people with basic and essential health services and vaccinate 1 million people, while WFP will be able to provide 2.7 million people with food assistance and nearly 840,000 mothers and children with nutrition assistance,” it added.

The money will be used to support food security and health programs in Afghanistan as it plunges into a severe economic and humanitarian crisis that intensified in August, following the fall of the Western-backed government and the withdrawal of the last US troops after the Taliban took over the country.

The United States and other donors cut off financial aid that Afghanistan became dependent on during the 20-year war and froze the country’s more than $9 billion hard currency assets. The United Nations has warned that about 23 million people – about 55% of the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, and about 9 million people are at risk of starvation as winter begins in this poor, landlocked country.

Using reconstruction trust fund money and channelling it through the WFP and UNICEF, both part of the UN family, appears to be a way to get funding into the country for basic needs in a manner that does not necessarily implicate US sanctions against the Taliban.

Former US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Laurel Miller has criticized the decision to use the ARTF for humanitarian aid, saying the money should come from other sources and $1.5 billion funds should be used for a comprehensive measures to prevent catastrophe and help prevent collapse of state institutions and employess who have not been paid for months.

“That’s not about helping the Taliban. That’s about helping Afghans who need a functioning state. They need more than food aid.”

As a bleak winter sets in, many people in the capital Kabul have resorted to selling household goods in order to feed themselves and buy coal to heat their homes.

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