Sanctions undermine vital aid to Afghanistan: ICRC

Kabul, Nov 28: The US-initiated sanctions imposed on the Taliban-run establishment in Afghanistan has undermined vital humanitarian aid supply to the war-torn country, Martin Schuepp, director of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has said.

“For the moment we are continuing to operate. I think one of the important challenges is indeed the sanctions that have been imposed. For example, the banking sector, and that makes our operations more difficult for us,” Schuepp told Xinhua.

Following the withdrawal of the US-led forces, Afghanistan’s assets worth more than $9 billion were frozen by the United States as part of its sanctions on the new rulers of the country.

“It is key that all sanctions have humanitarian exemptions, which allows humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC to operate and to be able to reach people in need,” Schuepp said.

The ICRC official made the remarks amid increasing poverty and high rate of unemployment in Afghanistan as more and more Afghans leave their homeland to find jobs abroad and send remittances for their families facing chilly winter and economic hardship at home.

The official of the ICRC, which has been operating in Afghanistan over the past 30 years, described the humanitarian situation as “very dire” in the country, saying more than half of the country’s population is in need of humanitarian aid.

Schuepp also said that poverty had led to an increase in the cases of pneumonia and malnutrition among children.

Earlier, aid agencies warned that more than 22 million out of the 35 million population of Afghanistan are facing acute food insecurity, warning the country will face catastrophe if necessary assistance is not sent ahead of winter.

“So, overall, we continue to operate throughout the country. We continue to implement our activities, and actually to increase our activities in the country,” the official said.

“Also, one of our main programs is supporting hospitals … around the country to make sure that all Afghans in need receive care.”