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Taliban urges Islamic nations to push US to release Afghan assets

Afghanistan's acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi (L). (FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

The Taliban government urged major Islamic nations to push the U.S. to call off sanctions imposed on Afghanistan, saying the actions are exacerbating the refugee crisis and hurting its people.

The freezing of Afghan assets by the U.S. is in violation of human rights, while the suspension of development assistance by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank has affected health, education and social services, according to acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. He was speaking at a special session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Council of Foreign Ministers in Pakistan.

“We urge participants of this great gathering to remind U.S. officials that persecution of Afghans and weakening of the Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone,” Muttaqi said.

The U.S. in August froze nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank and stopped shipments of cash to the nation. Central bank assets that the Afghan government has in the U.S. will not be available to the Taliban, which remains on the Treasury Department’s sanctions designation list, a U.S. official said then.

While the Taliban, which took control of Afghanistan in August, has yet to substantially address international concerns over the treatment of women and minorities, its leaders have sought help to contain the effects of a deepening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

According to the United Nations, more than half the country’s nearly 40 million people are facing acute hunger and a million children could die as the harsh winter sets in. It has also said as much as 97% of Afghanistan could be living in poverty by mid-2022, up from about 72% in 2020.

The United Nations Development Program last month warned that the nation’s banking sector risks collapse due to worsening liquidity problems and a rise in nonperforming loans, potentially adding to its growing humanitarian crisis.

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