Saturday, June 15, 2024

Asset Freezes Worsen Women Plight in Afghanistan: UN Experts

Immigration News

Arif Ahmadi
Arif Ahmadi
Arif Ahmadi holds a B.A. degree in Journalism. He works as an Editor & Content Writer for Khaama Press.
FILE: Afghan women attend a consultative grand assembly, known as Loya Jirga, in Kabul, Afghanistan April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Kabul, Afghanistan – At least 14 UN independent rights experts blame the United States and Islamic Emirate government for adding up to the challenges Afghan women go through, as the country suffer asset freeze since the takeover in August 15, 2021.

Da Afghanistan Bank (also known as the Afghan central bank) funds have been frozen since the collapse of former government, paralyzing its operations that regulate all banking and money handling in Afghanistan.  

While the United Nations and foreign governments condemned Taliban leadership for suppressing women’s rights, including the right to girl’s education, a statement by the UN independent rights experts hold the US government accountable for making life worse for Afghan women through blocking central bank assets.

“While gender-based violence has been a long-standing and severe threat to women and girls, it has been exacerbated by the measures imposed by the US…,” said the statement, without giving specific details, as U.S.News quoted.

But the US Department spokesperson denies its contribution to the hardship faced by Afghan women under the Taliban rule, saying the statement contained “serious mistakes”.

Meanwhile, the statement also held the Taliban’s “widening gender-based discrimination” for deteriorating women’s rights, as the group continued to impose strict restrictions on girl’s education and overall freedom in the country.

The current humanitarian crisis in which 23 million, or some 60% of the population, are reliant on food aid is having a “disproportionate impact” on women and children, the statement added.

Asset Freeze Since the Takeover

Da Afghanistan Bank (also known as the Afghan central bank) funds have been frozen since the takeover last August 15, paralyzing its operations that regulate all banking and money handling in Afghanistan.  

In February, the U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order setting wheels in motion to free up half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghan central bank assets on U.S. soil to help the Afghan people while holding the rest to possibly satisfy terrorism-related lawsuits against the Taliban, according to the U.S.News.

The U.S. State Department spokesperson said the February action had facilitated, not blocked access to a significant portion of Afghan Central Bank reserves. “If we hadn’t taken any action, all of the reserves would have been inaccessible indefinitely,” the spokesperson said.

The U.N. experts appointed by the Geneva-based Rights Council called the order’s provisions “overly broad” and said they were resulting in “over-zealous compliance with sanctions thus preventing people of Afghanistan from any access to basic humanitarian goods”.

Afghanistan Economy in a Glance

The ongoing political crisis since the takeover last August has “hit hard” private sectors in Afghanistan, where businesses were halted and put to uncertainty, according to a latest survey conducted by the World Bank.

Due to shortage in sells, private companies have laid off more than a half of their employees on average, a rising concern on unemployment rate in the country. 

“The majority of surveyed businesses reported a drastic decline in consumer demand for their products and services and have been forced to scale back operations, reduce investments, and lay off employees,” the report said.  

According to the survey, small enterprises have been hit hardest with about 38 percent of them seizing operation, comparing to a 25 percent among medium and 35 percent among large businesses in the country. 

The finding shows Afghan domestic inputs have become more expensive and yet difficult to obtain due to supplier closure and supply chain disruptions, which all lead to price inflation since the beginning of political uncertainty. 

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