World Bank agrees to use $280 million in frozen Afghan aid

Donors are due to meet Friday to approve the World Bank Board’s decision to transfer funds to humanitarian agencies in Afghanistan

Two sources familiar with the matter said the World Bank Board has approved the transfer of $280 million from a frozen Afghanistan trust fund to two aid agencies to help the country respond to a brewing humanitarian crisis following the US withdrawal.

Yesterday, Wednesday, the two sources said that the 31 donors to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund managed by the World Bank must agree to the transfer before the funds can reach the World Food Program and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The two sources added that the donors are expected to meet on Friday.

And people familiar with the plan had previously told Reuters that the World Bank Board held an informal meeting last Tuesday to discuss transferring up to $500 million of the $1.5 billion in the fund to humanitarian agencies.

Afghanistan’s 39 million people face a crumbling economy, winter food shortages and growing poverty, three months after the Taliban seized power and the last US troops withdrew at the end of a 20-year war.

Experts say that this money will help Afghanistan, but major questions remain, including how to deliver financial aid to the war-torn country without exposing any financial institution that provides it to US sanctions.

While the US Treasury has reassured banks that they can carry out humanitarian transactions, concern remains that US sanctions will continue to prevent access to even basic supplies, including food and medicine.

Any decision to redirect Afghanistan Reconstruction Fund funds requires the approval of all donors, the largest of which is the United States.

There was no immediate comment from the White House or the US Treasury on the approval of the World Bank Board to transfer funds to the World Food Program and UNICEF.

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