SIGAR: US provided over $2.35 billion in funding to Afghanistan since Taliban takeover

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has stated that the US has provided more than $2.35 billion in funding to Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

In a quarterly report to the US Congress on Tuesday, SIGAR indicates that the US remains the largest donor to Afghanistan despite halting major funding following the collapse of the former government in an attempt to review all non-humanitarian assistance programs and to assess the safety and ability to implement its operations.

Beginning in September 2021, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a series of licenses authorizing the delivery of assistance to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the US State Department and USAID restarted several programs addressing the critical needs of the people of Afghanistan in major sectors of health, education, agriculture, food security, and livelihoods. In addition to humanitarian activities, other programs included funding civil society, with a focus on women, girls, and human rights protections.

The SIGAR report highlights that these efforts are implemented through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, or other third parties in a bid to minimize any interference from the Taliban.

The US also remains a key donor to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) which has appealed $3.2 billion to assist 23.7 million people with lifesaving and protection assistance in 2023.

However, due to a funding shortfall mainly impacted by the Taliban’s ban on women’s and girls’ education and employment, the Plan was only 14% funded as of June 2023, with the US having donated $74.4 million thus far.

Nonetheless, the SIGAR report states that the Taliban have effectively infiltrated and influenced most UN-managed assistance programs by “pushing for ever-increasing degrees of credit and control over the delivery of aid.”

The Taliban have barred women from humanitarian work, attempted aid diversion, and disrupted UN aid provision in Daykundi, Ghor, and Uruzgan provinces.

Taliban’s interference with UN and NGO activities lead to a steady decline in humanitarian access in 2023, with a 32% increase in incidents between January and May 2023 as compared to the same period in 2022.

SIGAR also asserted that Afghanistan’s central bank (DAB) lacks independence from the Taliban administration and adequate safeguards against money laundering and terrorism financing.

The US has frozen nearly $7 billion in assets belonging to the DAB and stopped shipments of cash to the nation to sway the Taliban from accessing the money. Half of DAB’s assets are now a part of the Afghan Fund, a Swiss charitable fund to be used to benefit the people of Afghanistan.

SIGAR report states that DAB must prove its independence and the ability to counter illicit financing before the funds can be returned.