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“We have no more to eat, we will end up dying of hunger”: in the streets of Kabul, despair and misery


In the heart of Kabul, Tuesday, September 14 at midday, in the district of Shahr-e Naw, the guards of the main branch of the New Kabul Bank try, in vain, to dislodge the hundreds of men from the sidewalk. money in their accounts. “The bank won’t open today, go! “, one of them yells at the crowd, part of which remains seated, in spite and anger. Most of them slept there. They have been waiting for three days for the central bank to deliver funds to this public bank, one of the few to still provide access to bank accounts, within very tight limits. But the Afghan state’s coffers are hopelessly empty.

Men have been waiting since morning, some for several days, in front of the New Kabul Bank, September 14, 2021, in Kabul.

The arrival of the Taliban to power on August 15 threw away capital and central bank funds deposited abroad were frozen, especially in the United States. Some private banks which had reopened quickly closed again due to lack of liquidity. The donors’ conference, organized by the UN on Monday in Geneva, pledged $ 1 billion (840 million euros) in aid, but it remains conditional on political considerations, especially in terms of respect for human rights . A first major challenge today stands before the Taliban regime: to curb a serious economic and humanitarian crisis which risks marring a victory gained after twenty years of fighting.

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The population is indeed starting to scold. The New Kabul Bank mainly houses the accounts of civil servants and the armed forces. But there are also traders there. “We have the right to 10,000 afghanis [92 euros] in cash or 20,000 afghanis in check, I have money in my account and I have a family of ten people to support ”, explains Zabi, who runs a grocery store in Kabul. Shams Haq, who is 28 years old but looks twice as old, came from the distant Badakhshan province (north). “I came five days ago with 200 afghanis. Just enough to buy bread. ”

The New Kabul Bank has not issued tickets for three days.  Despite announcements from the guards, many men refuse to leave the area on September 14, 2021, in Kabul.

Habibullah is a civil servant. His fitted waistcoat well placed on his shalwar kameez (long shirt over baggy pants), it shows the look of a man who has rights. Working for the provincial administration of Nouristan (north), he has, however, for the past month had to borrow money from relatives and from grocery stores in his town, in Parun. But these last “No longer want [lui] to give credit ”. Coming, meanwhile, from Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar (north-east), Ala Gul speaks loudly and denounces the aggressiveness of the bank guards and the Taliban who are keeping watch. “They beat us. I haven’t had any money since August 15, when Kabul fell. “ One of the guards, Saifullah, justifies these expeditious means: “People started attacking the bank. “

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