President Joe Biden signed an executive order last Friday that jumpstarts the process of giving a portion of the frozen US-based assets belonging to Afghanistan for the benefit of the Afghan people as well as giving the other half to US victims of terrorism, specifically the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda.

In a statement released by the White House, it stipulated that the US government had the intentions to access and transfer $3.5 billion of the assets of Afghanistan’s central bank, Da Afghanistan Central Bank (DAB), held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for aid and humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan whose citizens are currently experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history.

As the Taliban took over the country after the disastrous US withdrawal in August, millions of Afghans are now facing starvation, with 50% of the population in extreme poverty. The remaining population is predicted to be living in poverty by mid-2022. The Taliban take over also made its economy fragile and weak, with a contraction of 30% compared to levels before the forced takeover. The Council on Foreign Relations reported that only 2% of Afghans have enough food, with 3 million children suffering from malnutrition and plagued by a collapsing healthcare system that largely depended on foreign aid. Public executions and the decline of human rights in the country have also negatively affected the quality of life for the majority of the Afghan population.

A malnourished Afghan child is treated at a hospital in Kandahar (AFP via Asia Times). Source:
A malnourished Afghan child is treated at a hospital in Kandahar (AFP/Murteza Khaliqi /Anadolu Agency via Asia Times).

At the moment, no transfer of funds will take place, nor will the money be immediately released as a New York federal court would have to allow the transfer. If the transfer is successful and authorized and approved by a New York federal court, $3.5 billion of the total $9 billion frozen Afghan funds ($7 billion of which is located at the Federal Reserve), it will no doubt be beneficial to the people of Afghanistan who are dying of hunger every day. However, this move may ultimately backfire as it may help the Taliban consolidate power.