World Bank 'deeply concerned', pauses aid to Afghanistan
The World Bank has suspended aid to Afghanistan, saying it is "deeply concerned" by the situation there, especially regarding women's rights, after the Taliban seized power, a bank spokesperson told AFP.
"We have paused disbursements in our operations in Afghanistan and we are closely monitoring and assessing the situation," the official said.
"We are deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and the impact on the country's development prospects, especially for women."
The suspension follows the Taliban's swift takeover of Afghanistan, as US forces prepared to complete a withdrawal with a deadline of August 31.
Washington last week announced it would deny the Taliban access to the country's gold and cash reserves, most of which are held overseas.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also suspended operations with the country, including an existing $370 million loan program, as well as $340 million Kabul was due to receive from Monday's release of Special Drawing Rights (SDR), the lender's basket of currencies.
The swift takeover has led to heart-wrenching scenes of people trying to flee the country, including women fearing a return to the kind of Taliban rule of their 1990s regime that saw women confined to their homes, most entertainment banned, and stonings and public executions used as punishments.
The World Bank held off on making a statement until it had pulled all of its personnel out of the country, an operation completed on Friday, according to a bank source.
The spokesperson said the development lender "will continue to consult closely with the international community and development partners."
"Together with our partners, we are exploring ways we can remain engaged to preserve hard-won development gains and continue to support the people of Afghanistan."
The World Bank has more than two dozen development projects ongoing in the country and has provided $5.3 billion since 2002, mostly in grants, according to the bank's website.