June 6, 2023

A still image from a video shows crowds near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 August 2021.

Asvaka News | via Reuters

LONDON – The World Bank is the youngest international organization to suspend aid to Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power.

The militant Islamist group has been controlling the Afghan capital Kabul for more than a week. It marked the collapse of the country’s government when US and Allied forces withdrew from the war-torn country after 20 years.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and the implications for the country’s development prospects, especially for women,” a World Bank spokesman told CNBC via email.

“We have suspended disbursements from our operations in Afghanistan and are closely monitoring and evaluating the situation in accordance with our internal policies and procedures. In doing so, we will continue to consult closely with the international community and development partners, ”said spokesman.

The World Bank had allocated more than $ 5.3 billion for development projects in Afghanistan.

The International Monetary Fund decided last week to also deny the Taliban access to finance. The Washington-based institution wants clarity about the future government in Kabul before it makes its funds available again.

There is a similar stance from Germany and the European Union in the broader sense, which in the course of the Taliban takeover also frozen development funds for the nation in the Middle East.

“Future development aid must be conditional. It is always conditional, linked to basic values, human rights and, of course, women’s rights. And it goes without saying that future development aid must also be “strictly state-oriented,” said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at a press conference on Tuesday.

She added that the EU has set aside EUR 1 billion (US $ 1.17 billion) for Afghanistan for the next seven years. “It will be frozen until we have solid guarantees and credible actions based on the conditions being met,” she said.

However, the EU announced on Tuesday that it would increase its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan from 50 million euros this year to 200 million euros. The idea is to prevent a major humanitarian shock from the developing situation on the ground.

“This will cover the urgent needs of the Afghans in Afghanistan, but of course also in the neighboring host countries,” said von der Leyen.

The EU is interested in supporting Afghanistan’s neighbors such as Pakistan and Iran in order to prevent an acute refugee crisis.

European heads of state and government are ready to take back some refugees from Afghanistan, but they want to stop a massive influx of the kind seen in the region in 2015 and 2016 following the conflict in Syria.

Following an emergency call from G-7 executives on Tuesday, Britain and Canada pledged to take in around 20,000 refugees each.