The freezing of Afghanistan's assets by the United States has dealt a severe blow to local efforts for post-earthquake rehabilitation and reconstruction. Afghanistan has experienced a series of devastating earthquakes, some with a magnitude of 6.3, striking the western Herat province since October 7, resulting in numerous casualties.
The aftermath of these earthquakes has left many residents in a state of despair. "Even though the earthquake was over, we nearly lost the hope of life. We don't know whether we can continue our life or not," expressed Mohammad, a 40-year-old villager in Herat.
The seismic activity has caused extensive damage to thousands of homes in the Zindajan district of Herat, reducing many areas to rubble. Survivors have been forced to endure the cold weather by living in open spaces.
While caravans and tents provided by donor nations and aid organizations have reached the affected areas, the families in distress require the means to rebuild their homes or construct new shelters. Mohammad lamented, "The United States, which has oppressed the people of Afghanistan for years, froze our money and refused to release it. If the money were released, we could use it to rebuild our houses. What America has done to us is with great injustice!"
Following the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan, the United States froze Kabul's assets, totaling more than 9 billion U.S. dollars, as part of its sanctions against the new leadership in impoverished Afghanistan. To exert further pressure on the Taliban-led administration, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a decree in February of the previous year, permitting the allocation of 3.5 billion dollars from the frozen Afghan assets to the families of the 9/11 terror attack victims.
Dawood, another local resident, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that U.S. sanctions have exacerbated the already dire situation for families affected by the earthquakes. The suffering of these survivors is palpable as they remain exposed to the elements in the face of approaching cold weather and an impending winter. Each one of them is in dire need of shelter before the snowfall begins. Dawood, who tragically lost five family members, including his wife and four children, added, "The United States has blocked the assets of Afghans, and this has further intensified the suffering of an already beleaguered nation."