WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued three General Licenses to facilitate the continued flow of humanitarian assistance and other support for the Afghan people. These actions underscore the United States’ commitment to support the people of Afghanistan and continue the U.S. government’s longstanding practice of authorizing the provision of humanitarian goods and services to areas affected by U.S. sanctions. Treasury’s OFAC also issued a Fact Sheet that highlights and consolidates all the relevant authorizations and guidance facilitating the flow of humanitarian assistance, personal remittances, and other support to the Afghan people.
“The United States is the largest single provider of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. We are committed to supporting the people of Afghanistan, which is why Treasury is taking these additional steps to facilitate assistance,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “Unfortunately, the economy faces grave challenges, exacerbated by the country’s long dependence on foreign aid, donor and private sector flight sparked by the Taliban’s takeover, drought, structural macroeconomic issues, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Treasury has provided broad authorizations that ensure NGOs, international organizations, and the U.S. government can continue to provide relief to those in need.”
As part of Treasury’s commitment to enabling humanitarian assistance and other support to Afghanistan, OFAC issued the following General Licenses that expand upon existing authorizations related to the provision of humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs and enable broader support for the Afghan people:
- General License 17 authorizes all transactions and activities involving the Taliban or the Haqqani Network that are for the conduct of the official business of the United States Government by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof, subject to certain conditions.
- General License 18 authorizes all transactions and activities involving the Taliban or the Haqqani Network that are for the conduct of the official business of certain international organizations and other international entities by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof, subject to certain conditions.
- General License 19 authorizes all transactions and activities involving the Taliban or the Haqqani Network, that are ordinarily incident and necessary to the following activities by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), subject to certain conditions: humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs; activities to support rule of law, citizen participation, government accountability and transparency, human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to information, and civil society development projects; education; non-commercial development projects directly benefitting the Afghan people; and environmental and natural resource protection.
There are no OFAC-administered sanctions that generally prohibit the export or reexport of goods or services to Afghanistan, moving or sending money into and out of Afghanistan, or activities in Afghanistan, provided that such transactions or activities do not involve sanctioned individuals, entities, or property in which sanctioned individuals and entities have an interest. In all cases, authorized transactions and activities must comply with the terms and conditions set forth in the applicable General License. Notably, the General Licenses listed above explicitly do not authorize financial transfers to the Taliban or the Haqqani Network, other than for the purpose of effecting the payment of taxes, fees, or import duties, or the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services related to the activities specified. For more information, please see GLs 17, 18, and 19.
These GLs also help implement adopted resolution UNSCR 2615 (2021), which authorizes humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs as those terms are understood by the United Nations Security Council, as well as the processing and payment of funds, other financial assets or economic resources, and the provision of goods and services necessary to ensure the timely delivery of such assistance or to support such activities.
This Resolution, drafted by the United States and unanimously adopted today by the 15 members of the UN Security Council, establishes a carveout in the UN 1988 sanctions regime to ensure urgently needed aid can reach the Afghan people. Specifically, UNSCR 2615 (2021) was intended to cover activities contemplated in the United Nations’ Transitional Engagement Framework (TEF) for Afghanistan, such as providing life-saving assistance; sustaining essential services; and preserving social investments and community-level systems essential to meeting basic human needs. The Resolution also requests periodic updates by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator to ensure assistance is reaching the intended beneficiaries, not being diverted to the Taliban.
Concurrent with these actions, OFAC updated three Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and issued six new FAQs. These FAQs provide clarity on the scope of GLs and address some of the questions that OFAC has received regarding its sanctions on the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. For more information, please see FAQs 928, 929, 931, 950, 951, 952, 953, 954, and 955.
OFAC also issued a humanitarian Fact Sheet, “Provision of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan and Support for the Afghan People,” providing an overview of the abovementioned authorizations and guidance, along with other relevant authorizations and FAQs.
For transactions not otherwise authorized or exempt, OFAC considers license requests on a case-by-case basis and prioritizes applications, compliance questions, and other requests related to humanitarian activity. For more information regarding the scope of any sanctions program’s requirements or the applicability or scope of any humanitarian-related authorizations, please contact OFAC’s Sanction Compliance and Evaluation Division at (800) 540-6322 or (202) 622-2490, or by email at OFAC_Feedback@treasury.gov.