According to UN aid director Martin Griffiths, Afghanistan's ruling Taliban are blocking efforts by the organization to help bring in humanitarian funding and are obstructing the distribution of aid (Jun 23).

Since the US-led forces departed and the extreme Islamist Taliban took control in August, international banks have been cautious about challenging US and UN sanctions, making it difficult for the UN and aid organizations to provide the necessary funding to operate their activities.

"The formal banking system continues to block transfers due to excessive de-risking, impacting payment channels and causing breakdowns in supply chains," Griffiths told the 15-member Security Council.

In an effort to alleviate the economic and assistance crises and get around Taliban commanders who are subject to sanctions, the UN has been working to launch a system known as the Humanitarian Exchange Facility (HEF) that would allow millions of dollars in supplies to be exchanged for Afghan currency.

"We have seen limited progress because of resistance by the de-facto authorities. This is an issue that is not going to fix itself," said Griffiths, adding that until Afghanistan's formal banking system could operate properly again, the United Nations needed to get Humanitarian Exchange Facility up and running.

Approximately 50% of the assistance organizations recently questioned by the UN, down from 87% in October, experienced difficulty getting funding into Afghanistan, he said, adding:"The direction of travel is positive, but the figure remains alarming."

According to Griffiths, two-thirds of the relief organizations indicated their initiatives were hampered by a lack of funding in Afghanistan.

Despite making a promise to UN officials in September that they wouldn't, Taliban authorities are also meddling more and more with the distribution of humanitarian aid, according to Griffiths.

"National and local authorities are increasingly seeking to play a role in the selection of beneficiaries and channeling assistance to people on their own priority lists, citing an almost universal level of need," he said.

"We are also seeing more demands by the Taliban for data and information with regards to budget and staffing contracts," he said, adding that aid groups "face continued difficulties as they try to hire Afghan women in certain functions".

Griffith's comments about the Taliban could not immediately be confirmed.

According to Griffiths, the UN had barely received a third of the US$4.4 billion it need to satisfy the country's humanitarian requirements in 2022. He declared, "We just don't have enough funding."