WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the U.S. Treasury Department announcement of its creation of an “Afghan Fund” to support Afghanistan amid the country’s humanitarian and economic crisis:

“I welcome the Biden administration’s long-overdue action to begin restoring some economic stability to Afghanistan and support the Afghan people during its devastating humanitarian crisis. The fund has the potential to create a vital pathway to a functioning financial system, returning desperately needed assets to Afghanistan that could alleviate major price spikes of food and other essentials. Since December of 2021, House progressives have been calling for a swift restoration of billions of dollars belonging to the people of Afghanistan to recapitalize its central bank and restore its basic functions. This new fund is an important first step toward that goal.

“But let us be clear: this crisis has been intensified by the Western freeze of Afghanistan’s  reserve assets held abroad — a policy that has contributed to an economic depression, mass hunger, and displacement. Over the last year, Afghanistan has lost 20-30 percent of GDP and experienced 52 percent inflation, putting food and other necessities out of reach for millions of people. More than 18 million Afghans are facing acute food insecurity and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their home country. No amount of aid can substitute for a structural solution to this problem, and ensuring Afghanistan has a functioning economy is the only way forward.

“While this fund has the potential to unlock $3.5 billion of the $7 billion in U.S. possession — which should be pursued swiftly — we believe the full $7 billion that rightfully belongs to the Afghan people should be restored to the Central Bank to combat the collapse of the Afghan economy and restore financial stability. We encourage the newly created Afghan Fund to work collaboratively with Afghanistan’s Central Bank to achieve the outcomes needed to restore Afghan control of these assets, and for the administration to follow this action by reassuring banks and governments worldwide that engage with Afghanistan’s central bank to provide liquidity will not face sanctions. We must move quickly to relieve the Afghan people's suffering and stave off humanitarian disaster.”