The Bank, which has provided $5.3 billion to the country since 2002, is deeply concerned about the situation there and the impact on its development prospects, a bank spokesperson says.

Afghan children fill water containers from a public water tap near damaged houses after air strikes in two weeks ago in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, southwestern Afghanistan, on August 21, 2021.
Afghan children fill water containers from a public water tap near damaged houses after air strikes in two weeks ago in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, southwestern Afghanistan, on August 21, 2021. (Abdul Khaliq / AP)

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 said.

"We have paused disbursements in our operations in Afghanistan and we are closely monitoring and assessing the situation," the official told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.

"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 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, the lender's basket of currencies.

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Ongoing development projects 

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.

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.

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Another blow to already fragile economy

Afghanistan relies heavily on foreign aid and is facing economic collapse after foreign countries and institutions said they would withhold aid and monetary reserves.

The World Food Programme or WFP has warned of a human catastrophe looming in Afghanistan if the United Nations agency is not able to raise $200 million by September.

"There’s a perfect storm coming because of several years of drought, conflict, economic deterioration, compounded by Covid," David Beasley, the WFP's executive director, told the news agency Reuters. 

"The number of people marching towards starvation has spiked to now 14 million."

Beasley said the international community faced some very difficult decisions, warning it would be "hell on earth" for the people of Afghanistan if the economic situation deteriorated.

"The people of Afghanistan need aid now," he said, adding that the amount of people needing the WFP's help could double if the international community "turns their back" on Afghans.

"The politics needs to be worked out as soon as possible."

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies