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Kandahar, Afghanistan. Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury said Friday that it has issued licenses allowing the U.S. government, NGOs and international organizations like the United Nations to engage in transactions with the Taliban or Haqqani Network to provide humanitarian assistance despite U.S. sanctions on the two militant groups.

Why it matters: There's growing concern that the punitive measures could exacerbate the crisis in Afghanistan, Reuters reports.

What they're saying: "Treasury remains committed to ensuring that U.S. sanctions do not limit the ability of civilians located in Afghanistan to receive humanitarian support from the United States government and international community," the department said in a release.

  • The move will help "ease the flow of critical resources, like agricultural goods, medicine, and other essential supplies, to people in need, while upholding and enforcing our sanctions," Office of Foreign Assets Control Director Andrea M. Gacki added in a statement.

The big picture: The Taliban's takeover has put over one million children in danger of extreme hunger, according to the UN, and 14 million are facing "severe hunger."

  • The World Health Organization has warned that Afghanistan's health care system is on the "brink of collapse."
  • Recent surveys found that only 5% of households have enough to eat every day, while half reported running out of food altogether at least once in the past two weeks, the UN World Food Programme said on Wednesday.

Editor’s note: The headline has been edited to clarify that the licenses are part of sanction waivers, and aid will go to organizations and NGOs to aid Afghans.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID-19 complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.