Merkley Applauds Additional Move to Enable Humanitarian Aid for Afghanistan, Calls for Further Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the U.S. Treasury Department announced a new general license for Afghanistan that will enable financial transactions supporting basic needs across the country. As Afghanistan has fallen deeper into a dire economic and humanitarian crisis, Merkley has led congressional efforts calling for this step and additional measures that will help protect millions of vulnerable Afghans.

“I welcome the administration’s issuance of an additional general license to enable financial transactions that are critical to meeting the basic needs of Afghan civilians. At a time when 22 million Afghans are facing acute food insecurity and a million children are at risk of dying of malnutrition, this step is critical to saving lives.

“However, given the ongoing risk of mass starvation in Afghanistan and the country’s dire liquidity crisis, the U.S. must continue to do more to ensure that the Afghan people are able to access desperately needed aid and funding for social services, with proper controls in place to prevent diversion by the Taliban. In addition to clarifying U.S. sanctions as this general license does, I, along with my colleagues in both chambers, have called on the administration to find alternative pathways to inject liquidity and restore the services of an independent central bank, to support the World Bank’s timely and full release of unspent funds from the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund, and to make a sizeable contribution to the UN’s 2022 humanitarian appeal. These additional steps are urgently needed, and I call upon the Biden administration to act without delay.”