Blinken announces $64m in new Afghanistan aid, calls evacuations ‘extraordinary effort’

US remains committed to getting Americans, Afghan SIV applicants out, Blinken says

John Bowden
Monday 13 September 2021 21:01 BST
Watch live as Blinken testifies to House on Afghanistan withdrawal

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced $64 million in new aid to Afghanistan’s civilian population while vowing at a committee hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs panel to continue working to extract Americans and others from the country.

In prepared remarks on Monday, Mr Blinken claimed that the contribution from USAID would “meet critical health and nutrition needs, address the protection concerns of women, children, and minorities, to help more children – including girls – go back to school”.

USAID had initially announced the aid just hours earlier in a news release, but Mr Blinken was the first Biden administration official to speak publicly on the news.

The funding “will flow through independent organizations, such as UN agencies and NGOs, and provide life-saving support directly to Afghans facing the compounding effects of insecurity, conflict, recurring natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic”, added the agency in its statement.

The US has now approved more than $300 million in assistance to Afghanistan so far this fiscal year, Mr Blinken went on to note in his remarks.

The secretary faced tough questions from Republicans on Monday regarding why some Americans and Afghan nationals who wanted to leave were left behind, while Democrats largely focused their fire on the Trump administration and sought to provide cover for the Biden administration.

US evacuations concluded at the end of last month, though a handful of American citizens remain in the country, as do likely hundreds if not more Afghan special immigrant visa (SIV) applicants.

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