Taliban dismisses UN aid interference allegations

File photo.

The Taliban has responded to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) report accusing them of interfering in humanitarian aid.

In a video statement, Zia Ahmad, the spokesperson of the Taliban’s foreign ministry, refuted the claims, labeling them as baseless and far from reality. Ahmad further asserted that the report aimed to “discredit” the United Nations and the aid community.

According to him, using humanitarian aid as a “tool” for pressure is an act against humanity.

The yet-to-be-released report commissioned by USAID, seen by Foreign Policy, suggests that the Taliban is diverting United Nations aid systematically and sees it as an additional revenue stream. It raises concerns about the UN’s ability to control the flow of aid, which includes approximately $2 billion from the United States since the collapse of the former Afghan government on August 15, 2021.

The report, submitted to USAID in May by the US Institute of Peace, also debunks several claims, including reports of factional divisions within the Taliban’s leadership ranks. It emphasizes the group’s cohesiveness under the supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, with little “meaningful opposition” to the decision-making power.

The report highlights the Taliban’s interference with foreign aid, which includes intimidation and coercion of local UN staff and pushing for greater control over aid delivery. It points out that the Taliban views foreign aid as a major economic prize, beyond formal taxation, leading to a contest for control over the aid sector.

The allegations of interference and concerns raised in the report may further impact donor contributions, even as the UN continues to appeal for funding to support Afghanistan.