International bodies have withheld funds and disrupted aid since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, with United States alone seizing nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank, and millions are left to suffer the costs.

An Afghan family was forced to have their children eat dry flour for days amid increasing poverty rate.
An Afghan family was forced to have their children eat dry flour for days amid increasing poverty rate. (Bilal Guler / AA)

The United Nations has urged the United States and the World Bank to unfreeze Afghan funds, locked since the Taliban's return to power to prevent "the nightmare unfolding in Afghanistan" from getting worse.

The plea came from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, two days after the UN said it needs $5 billion in aid for Afghanistan in 2022.

"We must... rapidly inject liquidity into the economy and avoid a meltdown that would lead to poverty, hunger and destitution for millions," Guterres told reporters in New York.

He called on Washington to take the lead in helping the country avoid a collapse "because the major part of the world financial system works in dollars."

"Freezing temperatures and frozen assets are a lethal combination for the people of Afghanistan," Guterres said.

READ MORE: ‘We need the economy resuscitated’: Aid can't fix Afghanistan’s food crisis

Acute malnutrition

After the Taliban seized power in mid-August as the United States ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan, the country has found itself on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Billions of dollars of assets are frozen by Washington, aid supplies are heavily disrupted and over half of the population faces the threat of famine.

An estimated 4.7 million people will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022, including 1.1 million children with severe acute malnutrition, according to aid agencies.

Last month, international donors agreed to release $280 million in aid to Afghanistan, after repeated warnings that more than half the population face acute food shortages this winter.

"I hope the remaining resources - more that $1.2 billion" from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) "will become available to help Afghanistan's people survive the winter," Guterres told journalists.

Washington seized nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank also suspended activities in Afghanistan, withholding aid as well as $340 million in new reserves issued by the IMF in August.

"Freezing temperatures and frozen assets are a lethal combination for the people of Afghanistan," Guterres said.

READ MORE: Afghanistan seeks humanitarian aid without 'political bias'

Source: TRTWorld and agencies