Jan 15, 2023 - World

UN rebukes Afghan bank’s cash remarks as "misleading and unhelpful"

Fiona Frazer speaks next to Markus Potzel, acting head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

Fiona Frazer, UNAMA human rights chief, speaks next to Markus Potzel, acting head of UNAMA, during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2022. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations issued a rebuke Saturday against Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled central bank for remarks it made about cash entering the country for humanitarian work, calling the comments "misleading and unhelpful."

Driving the news: Afghanistan's central bank had tweeted earlier Saturday that a package of $40 million of humanitarian aid had arrived and been deposited in a commercial bank in Kabul. The tweet was accompanied by photos of stacks of cash.

  • The bank added that it "appreciates any principled move that will bring currency to the country and help the needy in the society."

State of play: "Cash shipped to #Afghanistan by the UN is placed in UN accounts in a private bank. It is used by UN agencies to support its humanitarian work," the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) tweeted in response.

  • "Announcements by non-UN entities about UN fund shipments are misleading & unhelpful," it added.
  • According to a UNAMA information sheet, the UN transfers cash shipments to Afghanistan due to the "disruptions to international banking transfers and liquidity issues" that have plagued the Afghan economy since the Taliban takeover.
  • The money is placed into a private bank and then "distributed directly to the United Nations entities, as well as to a small number of approved and vetted humanitarian partners in Afghanistan," the information sheet stated. None is placed into the central bank or given to the Taliban's de facto authorities.

Since December 2021, the U.N. has brought in $1.8 billion in funds for it and its partners to do their work, per the information sheet.

The big picture: Recent weeks have seen a spike in tensions between the UN and the Taliban owing to the latter's new bans on female education and employment.

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