The Biden Administration Must Immediately Unfreeze Afghanistan’s Assets and End the Devastating Sanctions

Photograph Source: DVIDSHUB – CC BY 2.0

The worst humanitarian catastrophe on earth is unfolding before our eyes. Afghanistan’s healthcare infrastructure is collapsing, poverty has drastically increased, and nearly nine million Afghans are on the brink of starvation—including one million children.

This man-made humanitarian catastrophe is a direct result of American policies, namely freezing Afghanistan’s foreign assets and implementing strict sanctions. Prior to the American withdrawal, nearly 80% of Afghanistan’s budget came from the international community. That money has been cut off, causing a total economic collapse and imminent mass starvation. Human rights organizations working in Afghanistan have expressed the dire need for the United States to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets and end the sanctions in order to mitigate the enormous—and unnecessary—suffering of the Afghan people and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failed state.

On February 11th, the Biden Administration announced that the United States will unfreeze seven billion dollars of Afghanistan’s currently frozen assets and reserve half of that money for legal claims brought by the families of American 9/11 victims, with the other half going to humanitarian aid. This outrageous policy all but guarantees the collapse of Afghanistan’s central bank, and an increase in instability and starvation. In response to this announcement, Afghan-American activist Bilal Askaryar stated: “The people of Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11; that is an undeniable fact. What Biden is proposing is not justice for 9/11 families, it is theft of public funds from an impoverished nation already on the brink of famine and starvation…”

If these policies continue, more Afghans will likely die in the near future than died at the hands of the Taliban and American forces over the last twenty years, combined.

This impending mass murder of Afghan civilians is preventable. We call on the Biden Administration to immediately end these cruel and inhumane policies by lifting the sanctions, unfreezing Afghanistan’s foreign assets, and increasing humanitarian aid. Any measure short of this will result in immense suffering and death of Afghan civilians—and it will be entirely our fault.


(Institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only)

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tarqi Ali, Writer, “The Forty Year War in Afghanistan”

Dr. Hans von Sponeck, UN Assistant Secretary- General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (1998-2000)

Dr. Denis J. Halliday, UN Assistant Secretary- General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (1997-1998)

Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University and Chair of Global Law, Queen Mary University London

Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Samuel Moyn, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School and Professor of History at Yale University

Sara Roy, Senior Research Scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Columbia University

Nigel Gibson, Professor at the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, Emerson College

Vijay Prahad, Executive Director, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles

Margaret Ratner Kunstler, Civil Rights Attorney and Founding Member of the National Lawyers Guild NYC Mass Defense Committee

Michael Albert, Founder, Zcommunications and RevolutionZ

Christian Parenti, Professor of Economics, John Jay College, City University of New York

William I. Robinson, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Andrej Grubačić, Professor and Department Chair Anthropology and Social Change, California Institute of Integral Studies

Afghans for a Better Tomorrow

Letter Drafted and Organized by Jacob Batinga