Mina’s List stands with Afghan women leaders who released an open letter calling on the Biden administration to reconsider its decision to reallocate assets from Afghanistan’s central bank.
The letter was issued on behalf of more than 4,000 women from the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN), the Women’s Caucus & Women’s Commission of Afghan Parliament, Women’s Coalition for Peace “Our Voice for Our Future,” the Afghan American Women’s Association, and the Afghan Women Peace and Freedom Organization (AWPFO).
It followed the announcement by the White House that said it would “facilitate access to $3.5 billion of those assets for the benefit of the Afghan people and for Afghanistan’s future,” while more than $3.5 billion in assets would remain in the US subject to ongoing litigation by relatives of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Further clarity is needed from the U.S. government on how the $3.5 billion in assets will benefit the Afghan people. Afghanistan’s economy is on the verge of collapse and millions are facing starvation. With the Taliban’s growing restrictions on their rights, women and girls are bearing the brunt of the crisis. While the Executive Order rightly acknowledges the humanitarian crisis, the decision to seize the central bank’s assets could increase the risk of the situation spiraling out of control by further destabilizing the economy. As the open letter noted:
“The assets of Afghanistan belong to its people. The Central Bank and the economy must be supported if the people are to survive.”
Instead of earmarking Afghan central bank assets for humanitarian response, separate aid funding should be channeled through the United Nations’ humanitarian appeal.
The remaining $3.5 billion in remaining assets should also be used to stabilize the Afghan economy, which would address the root cause of the humanitarian crisis, and not be available for potential payments to the victims of the horrific events of September 11, 2001. As the letter states:
“While we share the sorrow of 9/11 and the lives lost as a result…this decision by the world's most powerful country over the resources of the world's poorest country is extremely unfair….Our people stood side by side with your nation for years, sacrificing more than any other nation in the war on terror.”
“Taking funds from the Afghan people is the unkindest and most inappropriate response for a country that is going through the worst humanitarian crisis in its history. It is the squeezing of a wounded hand. We ask you to reconsider this decision as we are still trying to heal what is left of us as a nation.”
Read the full open letter here.