Taliban call for release of frozen funds after deadly earthquake

Afghanistan’s Taliban administration called on international governments on Saturday to roll back sanctions and lift a freeze on central bank assets following the earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and left thousands homeless this week.

The 6.1-magnitude quake that struck the east of the country early on Wednesday damaged or destroyed 10,000 homes and also injured about 2,000 people, straining the country’s fragile health system and posing a major test for the ruling Taliban.

While humanitarian aid continues to flow to Afghanistan, funds needed for longer-term development were halted when the Taliban seized control of the country last August as foreign forces withdrew.

Billions of dollars in Afghan central bank reserves remain frozen overseas and sanctions hamper the banking sector as the West pushes for concessions on human rights.

Western governments are particularly concerned about the rights of women and girls to work and study under Taliban rule. In March, the group stopped high schools for girls from opening.

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