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UN’s Guterres Calls on U.S. To Release Afghanistan’s Frozen Funds To Aid People ‘on the Verge of Death’

Jan. 14, 2022 (EIRNS)—Speaking to reporters at the United Nations yesterday, Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the United States to release the Afghan central bank assets it has had frozen since last August, stressing the urgency of injecting liquidity into the Afghan economy, to avoid a complete breakdown that will worsen hunger, poverty, destitution and death. This afternoon, Guterres is scheduled to speak with Secretary of State Tony Blinken, in the company of Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths and Peter Maurer, director of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), precisely to address the issue of releasing the frozen funds. He is also calling on the international community to support the UN’s appeal to raise $5 billion for Afghanistan.

The Taliban welcomed his remarks and urged the U.S. to listen to Guterres and release the $9.4 billion in funds.

Guterres emphasized that

“we are in a race against time to help the Afghan people.... Freezing temperatures and frozen assets are a lethal combination for the people of Afghanistan. Rules and conditions that prevent money from being used to save lives and the economy must be suspended in this emergency situation,”

he warned.

“Jump-starting the banking system is essential to avoid economic collapse and to enable humanitarian operations. The function of Afghanistan’s Central Bank must be preserved and assisted, and a path identified for conditional release of Afghan foreign currency reserves.”

Al Jazeera raised the Jan. 14 meeting among Griffiths, Maurer, and himself with Blinken, and asked, “What does the U.S. need to do and what moral duty does it have to prevent the breakdown of the financial system in Afghanistan?” to which Guterres replied:

“Well, it is absolutely essential to avoid that breakdown, because with the present situation, you have Afghans on the verge of death. I’m talking of concrete death on the ground because of hunger, because of disease and because of lack of assistance.”

He further explained

“the reason why these meetings will take place is exactly to create mechanisms that allow ... mechanisms that allow for an effective injection of funds into the Afghan economy and, at the same time, create the conditions for the financial system in Afghanistan to be able to operate in the local currency. This is absolutely essential ... because most of the financial system in the world operate in dollars....”

The Taliban welcomed his remarks and urged the U.S. to listen to Guterres and release the $9.4 billion in funds.

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