UNAMA says Taliban’s announcement of cash aid shipment is ‘misleading’

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Saturday that any announcement by the Taliban-run central bank of UN funds arriving in Afghanistan “is misleading and unhelpful”.

Responding to Afghanistan’s central bank announcement earlier Saturday, UNAMA said on Twitter: “Announcements by non-UN entities about UN fund shipments are misleading & unhelpful.”

In its tweet, the mission also stated that “cash shipped to Afghanistan by the UN is placed in UN accounts in a private bank. It is used by UN agencies to support its humanitarian work.”

This comes after UNAMA published a much-needed explanation of its cash shipments to Afghanistan last week, stating that the money is controlled solely by the organization once in the country and is not benefiting the Taliban.

The explanation followed weeks of speculation about whether the Taliban had benefited from the millions of dollars shipped into Kabul each week, and whether this stream of hard cash had been suspended following the group’s ban on higher education for women and the subsequent ban on women working for NGOs.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, the international community has been sending in between $40 million and $80 million each week. The Taliban-controlled central bank announced the arrival and the amount received on its Twitter account every week.

Following the Taliban’s ban, issued on December 20, on women getting a university education, the weekly tweets by the central bank stopped. In their last tweet, on December 14, the central bank said the amount received had been $40 million.

On Friday, January 6, Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today show that the Taliban was not benefitting from the cash aid flowing into the country and that the funds “were very tightly controlled”.

“At the moment, we have a temporary suspension on taking funds in while we see where this particular edict (the ban on women working for NGOs) is going,” he said adding that he did not think the UN was the Taliban’s “banker” as the group was raising its own money in various ways including through taxes.

The UN and its partners divulge few details on this steady flow of cash into the country and only on Monday did the organization throw some light on the situation. On Saturday, the month-long suspension appeared to have been lifted, given the arrival of the cash. However, UNAMA did not confirm the money was theirs – but only said announcements to this effect by non-UN entities were “misleading”.