WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), issued the following statement applauding the issuing of general licenses to enable the flow of humanitarian aid into Afghanistan. In August, Merkley led a letter pressing the Biden administration to take this step and pushed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to clarify the administration’s position during this month’s SFRC hearing on Afghanistan.
“The United States has a moral responsibility to help those left behind in a nation that has been upended by two decades of an American-led war. In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal, millions of Afghans—especially women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and ethnic and religious minorities—face harrowing circumstances that are only compounded by the looming humanitarian crisis. The United States must ensure that U.S. policies to counter the Taliban do not inadvertently stop the flow of aid to Afghans who desperately need and deserve assistance at this difficult moment. Today’s news is a crucial step to boosting our humanitarian commitment to Afghanistan.”
As a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Group, the Taliban has long faced sanctions from the U.S. government. Today’s action by the U.S. Treasury Department to issue general licenses for non-government organizations (NGOs) will ensure that these sanctions do not interfere with the flow of humanitarian aid into the country.