US issues general licences allowing personal remittances to flow to Afghanistan

Remittances from family and friends abroad have become critical lifelines for numerous Afghans struggling to meet expenses.

Reuters file
Reuters file

By Reuters

Published: Fri 10 Dec 2021, 10:48 PM

Last updated: Fri 10 Dec 2021, 10:55 PM

The United States on Friday formalised guidance allowing personal remittances to flow to Afghanistan, providing protection to senders and financial institutions from US sanctions on the Taliban as the country faces a deepening humanitarian crisis.

The Treasury Department issued a general license authorising transactions involving the US-blacklisted Taliban or Haqqani Network that are incident and necessary to the transfer of noncommercial, personal remittances to Afghanistan, including through Afghan depository institutions.

The license, which formalizes existing guidance given to financial institutions, is being implemented in an effort to ensure people can continue to send support to their families in Afghanistan, a Treasury spokesperson told Reuters.

Remittances from family and friends abroad have become critical lifelines for numerous Afghans struggling to buy food and meet other expenses amid an economic crisis that accelerated when the Taliban seized power in August as the former Western-backed government collapsed and the last US troops withdrew.

The United States and other donors cut financial assistance on which the country became dependent during two decades of war with the group, and more than $9 billion in Afghanistan's hard currency assets were frozen.

The United Nations is warning that nearly 23 million people – about 55 per cent of the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine as winter takes hold in the impoverished landlocked country.

"US sanctions on the Taliban are not the cause of the calamities facing the Afghan economy, and these additional authorisations will not resolve the fundamental causes of the situation," the spokesperson said.

Western Union Co and MoneyGram International Inc resumed money-transfer services to Afghanistan in September after suspending services after Taiban captured Kabul at lightning speed.

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