The U.N. Security Council has adopted a resolution introduced by the U.S. aimed at facilitating aid to Afghanistan, where war and international sanctions have left the country near a humanitarian disaster and economic collapse.
The Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in mid-August after 20 years of war against a U.S.-led coalition.
The West has since frozen $9.5 billion in aid and assets to the aid-dependent country of more than 40 million people, who are also facing a harsh winter.
The Security Council resolution, passed unanimously Wednesday, said, "This resolution provides an exemption from the U.N. Security Council assets freeze against listed members of the Taliban and associated entities solely for the provision of humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan, which the council will review in one year."
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Agence France-Presse the resolution’s approval was a "good step." He also expressed hope the approval would "speed up" the removal of financial sanctions on entities with links to the Taliban.
Separately, the U.S. Treasury Department acted Wednesday to ease sanctions against Kabul, saying it would issue licenses to ensure that some international aid could flow to Afghanistan, as long as it did not reach individuals sanctioned by the U.S.
The licenses also will allow Afghans living abroad to send money to their families in Afghanistan.
The U.S. has designated Afghanistan’s Taliban and the related Haqqani network as terrorists, restricting their access to international institutions and external funding that supported the country’s economy before the withdrawal of U.S. forces this year and the swift ouster of the previous government.
The global community funds up to 80% of Afghanistan’s budget. Without greater access to foreign money, many economists predict, the Afghan economy could shrink by about 30% this year, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse, The Associated Press and Reuters.