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US callously ignoring suffering of Afghan people: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-08-16 20:13

Internally displaced people to be sent back to their home provinces are pictured in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 24, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

One year after the hurried United States withdrawal from the country made headlines around the world, Afghanistan has all but disappeared from the global limelight.

Out of sight, though, doesn't mean it should be out of mind. The Afghan people's well-being deserves greater humanitarian concern and practical assistance from the international community.

Not only is the aid from foreign governments sparse and little, but Afghans are unable to access their own assets that have been frozen by Western governments.

As economic conditions in Afghanistan deteriorate, appeals for the release of frozen Afghan assets are growing louder.

A letter to US President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen signed by 71 economists from the US and other countries has reportedly urged the US government to allow Afghanistan's central bank to reclaim its international reserves "in order to mitigate the humanitarian crisis and set the Afghan economy on a path toward recovery".

After the Taliban's swift takeover of state power, the US froze nearly $7 billion in assets that the Afghan central bank had in the US. The United Kingdom, Germany and the United Arab Emirates have likewise refused to return a total of $2 billion to the country's central bank.

Without the immediate input of the $9 billion, according to the international economists, the Afghan central bank will be unable to perform its normal functions, and the Afghan economy will collapse. Currently 70 percent of Afghan families have difficulties getting basic necessities, about 22.8 million people (more than half the national population) face a serious food crisis, and 3 million children are subject to potential malnutrition.

Returning all the $7 billion looks impossible at least for now, because the Biden administration decided in February to use half of the Afghan money to compensate the families of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, and has earmarked the other half to help the Afghan people, but circumventing the Taliban authorities.

The terrorist designation still sticks to the Taliban and this is no doubt the most outstanding political obstacle to the return of the frozen assets as it will not receive recognition of the West in the near term. It will take time for the Taliban to prove its legitimacy and be accepted as a normal government. But the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan won't wait.

As the economists point out, the US can't prove the legitimacy of the freeze, and the Afghan people need that life-saving money now.

China's permanent representative to the United Nations echoed the international economists' call on Monday for thawing the frozen Afghan assets to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The international community must find a way to make sure that legal Afghan assets are released and used for humanitarian causes in the country.

The Taliban's political designation should not be a pretext for indifference to the Afghan people's suffering, which looks like vindictiveness on the part of the US after its failure in the country on all fronts.

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