The World Bank is finalising a proposal to deliver up to $500m from a frozen Afghanistan aid fund to humanitarian agencies, people familiar with the plans.
According to Reuters the board members discussed the proposal, hammered out in recent weeks with US and United Nations officials, to redirect the funds from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which has a total of $1.5bn.
Afghanistan’s 39 million people face a cratering economy, a winter of food shortages and growing poverty three months after the Taliban seized power as the last US troops withdrew from 20 years of war.
Afghan experts said the aid will help, but big gaps remain, including how to get the funds into Afghanistan without exposing the financial institutions involved to US sanctions, and the lack of focus on state workers.
They said that the money will go mainly to addressing urgent healthcare needs in Afghanistan, where less than seven per cent of the population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
For now, it will not cover salaries for teachers and other government workers, a policy that the experts say could hasten the collapse of Afghanistan’s public education, healthcare and social services systems.
They warn that hundreds of thousands of workers, who have been unpaid for months, could stop showing up for their jobs and join a massive exodus from the country.
The World Bank will have no oversight of the funds once they are transferred into Afghanistan, said one of the sources familiar with the plans.