Human Rights

World Bank approves more than $1 billion aid package for Afghanistan

By Salaam Times and AFP

Afghans receive aid from a charity on the outskirts of Kabul on January 30. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Afghans receive aid from a charity on the outskirts of Kabul on January 30. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

WASHINGTON -- The World Bank on Tuesday (March 1) announced more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, stating the money will go to United Nations (UN) agencies and international NGOs while remaining "outside the control" of the country's rulers.

The reallocation from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) follows the $280 million in ARTF funds disbursed December 15, and is aimed at supporting the humanitarian response over the critical winter months.

The funds, to be delivered in the form of grants, aim "to support the delivery of essential basic services, protect vulnerable Afghans, help preserve human capital and key economic and social services, and reduce the need for humanitarian assistance in the future", the Washington-based lender said in a statement.

"As a first step, the ARTF donors will decide on four projects of approximately $600 million to support urgent needs in the education, health and agriculture sectors, as well as community livelihoods, with a strong focus on ensuring that girls and women participate and benefit from the support," the statement said.

The design of and funding allocation for these projects will be finalised in the coming weeks, it said.

"This $600 million will be supplemented with additional allocations from the ARTF during 2022 as conditions allow and as decided by the ARTF donors," it added.

The bank suspended its aid to Kabul late last August after the fall of the previous Afghan government.

Multi-donor generosity

ARTF is a multi-donor fund that co-ordinates international aid to improve the lives of millions of Afghans. It is administered by the World Bank on behalf of donor partners.

Until the fall of the previous administration, the ARTF was the largest source of development funding for Afghanistan, financing up to 30% of the government's budget.

Because the World Bank is unable to provide money directly to the current Afghan government -- which is not recognised by the international community -- it has redirected the funds to organisations like the UN Children's Agency (UNICEF) in response to the humanitarian crisis.

Afghanistan's population has faced acute food shortages and mounting poverty -- exacerbated by extreme drought and harsh winter conditions -- since the previous government collapsed last August.

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All of Afghanistan's frozen money will be gradually released in hundreds of millions of dollars or in billions of dollars in a similar manner, but nothing bigger will come out of it. More than 50% of the money that comes and goes through the United Nations to help Afghans, is spent on administration and transportation costs etc. and less than 50% is actually spent to help the poor Afghans. The money that is frozen in the United States, should be used only for the construction of infrastructure projects such as the construction of hydroelectric dams, highways and factories, and for building large and high-standard hospitals.


If this money is spent on the country's infrastructure activities such as the construction of hydro-electric dams, which are a basic necessity in all aspects of the country, and run all the affairs in the country, this will be commendable.


My relative told me that he worked with UNHCR. One day he wrote a report on the distribution of aids and mentioned all the exact figures in it; however, his boss told him to change the figures. Instead, he asked me to write more than distribute to pass the report. This is a matter at the district level. If we come to the aid of foreign organizations at the provincial level and the national level, they are ferocious. Because first, the employees of the organizations are paid enough, they are forced to steal many times more from the poor in aid money. So the good thing is that this aid should be given to the government instead of the NGOs. If it is not used for development, the current government will pay at least AFN 5,000 a month for an employee who was previously paid AFN 10,000, and his children will be fed for some time.


Unlike many of the Taliban's negative aspects, the group is not treacherous. It would be better to give the same money to the government instead of the NGOs to spend it on profitable projects. However, guarantees have to be taken from them, not spent unnecessarily, and there must be an authority to monitor these expenditures. Suppose this money is given to non-governmental organizations. In that case, whether internal or external, the money given to them does not benefit Afghans because most of the money is spent on foreigners' salaries, cars, facilities, entertainment. Even twenty percent of it would not go to help the Afghans