Economic crisis “could fuel extremism in Afghanistan”

Afghanistan’s deep economic crisis threatens to increase the “risk of extremism” in the region, a senior UN official has warned.

The war-ravaged country stands on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe as foreign assets and monetary aid remain frozen after the Taliban returned to power in August.

UN envoy to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons told the UN Security Council on November 17 that with the local economy in tatters, illicit drugs, arms flows and trafficking in human beings are likely to increase.

The United Nations has warned that about 22 million Afghans, or about half the country, will face food shortages this winter.

“The reality of the current situation threatens to increase the risk of extremism,” Lyons said.

“The current paralysis of the banking sector will push more of the financial system to turn to informal unregulated money exchanges, which can only facilitate terrorism, drug trafficking and smuggling,” Lyons warned, adding: “These pathologies will affect Afghanistan first, but then they will infect the region.”

Lyons also lamented that the Taliban failed to stem the spread of Islamic State in Afghanistan.

Lyons spoke shortly after the Taliban issued a statement urging U.S. lawmakers to release the country’s frozen assets.

In an open letter, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said the biggest challenge Afghanistan faces is financial insecurity, “and the roots of this concern lead to the freezing of our people’s assets. by the US government “.

Washington seized nearly $ 9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank, and the aid-dependent economy effectively collapsed, with officials unpaid for months and the Treasury unable to pay the costs. imports.

Lyons also lamented that the Taliban have not been able to stem the spread of Islamic State in Afghanistan.

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