The Taliban demand the release of funds frozen after the deadly earthquake


By Charlotte Greenfield

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s Taliban administration on Saturday called on international governments to roll back sanctions and lift the freeze on central bank assets following the earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and left thousands homeless this week.

The 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the east of the country on Wednesday damaged or destroyed 10,000 homes and injured around 2,000 people, straining the country’s fragile health system and posing a major test for the Taliban in the power. [L1N2YC094]

“The Islamic Emirate is asking the world to give Afghans their most basic right, which is their right to life, and that is by lifting sanctions and unfreezing our assets and also providing assistance,” Abdul said. Qahar Balkhi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Reuters in an interview.

While humanitarian aid continues to flow into Afghanistan, funds needed for longer-term development were cut short when the Taliban took control of the country last August as foreign forces withdrew.

The administration of the radical Islamist group is not officially recognized by international governments.

Billions of dollars in Afghan central bank reserves remain frozen overseas and sanctions are hampering the banking sector as the West pushes for concessions on human rights.

Western governments are particularly concerned about the rights of women and girls to work and study under the Taliban regime. In March, the group banned the opening of high schools for girls.

Asked about the issue, Balkhi said Afghans’ right to vital funds should be the priority, adding that the international community treats human rights concerns differently depending on the country concerned.

“Is this rule universal? Because the United States just passed an anti-abortion law,” Balkhi said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Friday reversal of the landmark Roe ruling. v. Wade who recognized a woman’s right to abortion.

“Sixteen countries around the world have suppressed the rights of religious minorities, especially Muslims… do they also face sanctions for violating rights? “, he added.

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Helen Popper)