World Bank gets donors' backing for $280 million Afghan aid programme
13 December 2021
A group of donor nations under the aegis of the United Nations on Friday agreed to transfer $280 million from a frozen trust fund to the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF to support nutrition and health in war-torn Afghanistan, the World Bank has said.
Of the proposed $280 million $180 million will come from the World Bank-administered Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund while the Unicef will provide $180 million.
The money would be used to beef up food security and nutrition operations as also to provide essential health services, the bank ststed in a release.
According to the World Bank, using reconstruction trust fund money and channeling it through the WFP and Unicef, both part of the UN family, is the best way to get funding to meet the basic needs amidst sanctions against the Taliban.
"This decision is the first step to repurpose funds in the ARTF portfolio to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan at this critical time," the bank said, adding that the agencies had presence on the ground to deliver services directly to Afghans in line "with their own policies and procedures."
"These ARTF funds will enable Unicef to provide 12.5 million people with basic and essential health services and vaccinate 1 million people, while WFP will be able to provide 2.7 million people with food assistance and nearly 840,000 mothers and children with nutrition assistance," it added.
Afghanistan has been sinking into a severe economic and humanitarian crisis since August last year, when the Taliban overran the country and the elected government collapsed as the US withdrew support.
The United Nations has warned that nearly 23 million people (about 55 per cent of the population) in war-torn, impoverished Afghanistan are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine as winter sets in.
Afghanistan, which was subject to violent post-takeover acts of persecution by the ruling Taliban, is yet to recover from the aftershocks. Trade has come to a standstill and international aid has dried bringing the economy to a standstill.
Moreover, Afghanistan is currently under the grip of a draught brought about by the climate change, which could push more and more Afghans into the grip of hunger.
Afghanistan has been dependent on aid from the United States and its allies for the past 20 years of war while more than $9 billion of the country's hard currency assets remained frozen.