The Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has released its 55th Quarterly Report to Congress examining the $146.40 billion U.S. reconstruction effort in Afghanistan.
This quarter SIGAR issued an evaluation requested by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to review the status of U.S. funding for reconstruction in Afghanistan.
SIGAR found USAID and State had accounted for most of their obligated funds in FY 2021.
SIGAR plans to issue an interim report in May addressing the factors that led to the collapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in August 2021.
- According to the U.S. State Department’s Humanitarian Information Unit, “since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, humanitarian conditions have deteriorated with over 24.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan—an increase from 18.4 million in 2021.”
- On March 17, the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) reported that of the 22.8 million people facing food insecurity in 2022, 8.7 million remain at risk of famine-like conditions. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 3.2 million children in Afghanistan will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022, with one million severely malnourished children at risk of death if immediate action is not taken.
- WFP and NGOs have reported some families resorting to selling kidneys or other organs and even selling their children to survive. Media reports indicate that organ sales have become particularly widespread in Afghanistan, with the price of a human kidney dropping by over half due to high supply since the Taliban seized power.
- This quarter, Taliban authorities continued their efforts to restrict the media, such as detaining journalists and reportedly taking international news programs off the air. A survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders and the Afghan Independent Journalists Association found that by the end of 2021, 231 media outlets out of a total of 543 had closed and the number of individuals working in media had dropped from 10,790 (8,290 men and 2,490 women) to 4,360 (3,950 men and 410 women).
- According to U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), $18.6 billion worth of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) equipment was procured through the Afghan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) since 2005—not the $80 billion reported by some media—and much of that equipment was destroyed during combat operations. DOD estimates that $7.12 billion worth of ANDSF equipment remained in Afghanistan in varying states of repair when U.S. forces withdrew in August 2021.
- On January 19, DOD notified Congress that it intended to transfer five U.S.-procured former Afghan Mi-17 helicopters that had been undergoing maintenance in Ukraine to the Ukrainian government. Ukraine accepted these excess defense articles on March 11. In mid-April, President Biden announced a military assistance package to Ukraine that included an additional 11 Mi-17 helicopters that had been scheduled for Afghanistan.
- Contributions to humanitarian-assistance organizations for calendar year 2021 were more than $2.20 billion—the highest ever donated, and contributions for the quarter ending March 31 of nearly $632.47 million are of similar magnitude. Donors have contributed nearly $13.16 billion to humanitarian-assistance organizations from 2002 through March 31, as reported by the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
- On March 29, the World Bank halted a movement of $600 million for aid in Afghanistan in response to the Taliban’s March 23 announcement that girls would not be allowed to attend school past the 6th grade until a plan is drawn up in accordance with ‘Islamic law and Afghan culture.’
- According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, political violence and protest incidents under the Taliban (October 2021–March 2022) declined by 80% compared to average incidents under the former Afghan government during the same time last year (October 2020–March 2021).
- On March 17, the UN Security Council voted (with Russia abstaining) to renew the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) mandate for one year, continuing UN engagement with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
- On March 31, the United States pledged more than $204 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan. This is in addition to $308 million announced on January 11. Total U.S. humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region since October 2020 now totals nearly $986 million.
- According to the Taliban air force commander and former Afghan Air Force (AAF) personnel, about 4,300 members, half of the former AAF, have joined the Taliban’s air force, including 33 pilots. Only a fraction of the 81 aircraft at the Kabul military airport are functional, including six repaired UH-60 Blackhawks.
- In November, the Taliban established a “Commission of Purification” under the Ministry of Defense to remove Taliban members who have violated the rights of others or committed ethnic, religious, and personal animosity crimes. In February, the chief inspector of the de facto Defense Ministry and chairman of the Commission of Purification claimed 4,350 members were identified and expelled from the Taliban, according to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.
- Reports indicate that opium-poppy cultivation surged in the southern Afghan provinces of Kandahar and Helmand in preparation for the 2022 harvest. On April 3, the Taliban officially banned the production of opium and other narcotics. As a result of a cold winter with rising food prices and an economic crisis, there are few economic alternatives for opium-poppy farmers.
- According to the most recent assessment by the UN’s International Labor Organization, over 500,000 workers lost employment in the third quarter of 2021. By mid-2022, total job losses since the Taliban takeover are projected to reach between 700,000 and 900,000. Women are particularly impacted, with female employment levels projected to decrease by 21% by mid-2022.
- On March 15, President Biden signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, which mandated rescissions of $1.66 billion in U.S. funds allocated to three accounts available for Afghanistan reconstruction. A plan for the rescission of ASFF funds has been adopted by DOD, but none of the three accounts showed any implementation of the mandated rescissions by March 31. The U.S. government continued to take measures to reallocate funds previously made available for Afghanistan reconstruction in FY 2022.
- Afghanistan remains in the grips of the worst drought in three decades. The total area planted with winter wheat is well below average, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
- During August and September 2021, State Department and USAID paused the majority of development assistance programs. Since then, more than a dozen State and USAID programs in Afghanistan have restarted to address critical needs of the Afghan people. Efforts in these areas are being implemented through NGOs, international organizations, and other third parties, minimizing benefit to the Taliban to the extent possible.
- On January 14, the Taliban-run Ministry of Finance released a 53.9 billion (AFN), equivalent to $524 million, quarterly budget covering December 2021–March 2022. This includes a $478 million operating budget that preserves spending on social services and reduces defense and security spending, alongside a modest $46 million development budget for projects like transportation infrastructure.
Read to full SIGAR Quarterly Report here.
Link to SIGAR Quarterly Report by section here.