A crippled banking system is pushing Afghanistan towards collapse – Red Cross

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DUBAI (Reuters) – Afghanistan is nearing economic collapse six months after the Taliban seized power, the Red Cross said on Friday, with a crippled banking system hampering international efforts to provide financial aid to the country. war-torn country.

Organizations such as the Red Cross have been forced to resort to informal money exchanges to transfer money to pay the salaries of some workers, although most of the approximately 500,000 Afghan state employees have now worked without pay for months.

“The banking system is totally paralyzed. The central bank is not functioning,” International Committee of the Red Cross director-general Robert Mardini told Reuters, adding that he was paying some 10,000 doctors and nurses using the network. informal “hawala” money transfer.

Mardini said in a call from the capital Kabul that the international community and the Taliban needed to find a pragmatic solution to get the banking system back up and running while Afghanistan was hanging by a thread.

“You can’t just run the country on the hawala system. There has to be a political negotiation for that. But time is running out,” Mardini added.

Afghanistan’s new leaders have called on the international community to help the country and pushed for the release of billions of dollars in assets frozen abroad.

Afghanistan’s economy depended on aid before the Western-backed government was toppled last year by the hardline Islamist Taliban, who are under unilateral sanctions that have made foreign banks reluctant to facilitate transfers aid money.

The United States sought to allay fears of those providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan of falling under sanctions and said it would release $3.5 billion in frozen assets from Afghanistan’s central bank on American soil to help the Afghans.

Mardini said the Red Cross will soon request another $50 million from donors for aid to Afghanistan this year, on top of the already budgeted 150 million Swiss francs ($161 million).

“Humanitarian aid is needed more than ever,” he said.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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