Photo: Da Afghanistan Bank via X

US Provides Over $17 Billion to Afghanistan After Withdrawal, SIGAR Reports

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES – The United States has provided over $17 billion in assistance to Afghanistan and Afghan refugees since the military withdrawal in August 2021, according to a report released by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on Thursday, May 2.

The report details the breakdown of this significant aid package. It includes $2.8 billion allocated for humanitarian and development aid, as well as $3.5 billion transferred from the previously frozen Afghan central bank funds to a Swiss bank account (the Afghan Fund).

Additionally, the Department of Defense has committed $5.36 billion to support Afghan evacuees with housing and basic needs, while another $5.53 billion has been directed to the Department of State’s ongoing Enduring Welcome programs.

The report further highlights the U.S. government’s commitment of over $233 million for humanitarian aid in the first half of Fiscal Year 2024.  “USAID obligated a significant portion of this funding, over $153 million, this quarter,” SIGAR stated. “Some $150 million will be distributed to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) for food assistance programs, including cash transfers, vouchers, and logistical support.”

Following the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan’s banking system became paralyzed due to international restrictions. This resulted in a halt in foreign aid which had been a critical lifeline for the country’s economy.

To address the dire situation, the UN initiated weekly cash shipments to Afghanistan. Although both the UN and the U.S. Department of State insist that the cash shipments are deposited into a private bank in Kabul, away from the Taliban’s reach, concerns persist about potential Taliban infiltration and misuse of the funds.

In a recent interview, John Sopko, head of SIGAR, expressed these concerns, stating, “The majority of the UN cash shipments ultimately end up in the hands of the Taliban. “It’s going to a terrorist group. The Taliban are a bunch of terrorists.”

US lawmakers have also voiced concern regarding the Taliban’s infiltration and usage of the funds to support its militants and, ultimately, finance terrorism. The Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, and US Senator Marco Rubio called for a cessation of money sent to Afghanistan due to concerns about Taliban infiltration and terrorism financing.

Chairman Michael McCaul, emphasized the need for assurances “that this [aid] going to go to the right hands,” while Senator Marco Rubio warned that “American taxpayer dollars should not benefit terrorist organizations, like the Taliban.”