KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s central bank on Saturday criticized Washington’s plan to use half of the bank’s $7 billion in frozen assets on U.S. soil for humanitarian aid and set aside the rest for possibly satisfy the legal proceedings relating to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
US administration officials said on Friday they would work to ensure access to $3.5 billion in assets would benefit the Afghan people, amid calls for the money to be used to meet to an economic crisis that has worsened since the Taliban took power last year.
The other half of the funds would remain in the United States, subject to ongoing litigation targeting the Taliban, including by relatives of those who died in the September 11 attacks, officials said.
Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) criticized the move, saying its assets were invested in the United States in accordance with international practices and belonged to the Afghan people.
“The ATM considers the latest decision by the United States on freezing foreign exchange (currency) reserves and diverting them to irrelevant purposes, an injustice to the people of Afghanistan,” the central bank said in a statement.
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“(DAB) will never accept Afghanistan’s currency reserves being disbursed in the name of compensation or humanitarian aid to others and wishes the decision to be rescinded and all reserves to be released currency from Afghanistan,” he added.
Central bank funds have been frozen since the Taliban took control of the country when foreign forces withdrew in August.
Frozen funding, combined with sanctions and declining development funding, has caused the country’s economy to plummet, triggering a humanitarian crisis.
(Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Helen Popper)
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