Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

Research and Analysis Directorate

61st Quarterly Report to the United States Congress October 30, 2023Key Issues & Events

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What the United States is Doing in Afghanistan

A Taliban fighter stands guard as women wait for aid distributed by a humanitarian group in Kabul, May 2023. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)
Children get water from a UNICEF truck in Herat Province following several earthquakes in October. (UNICEF photo/Osman Khayyam)
Children get water from a UNICEF truck in Herat Province following several earthquakes in October. (UNICEF photo/Osman Khayyam)
Children get water from a UNICEF truck in Herat Province following several earthquakes in October. (UNICEF photo/Osman Khayyam)

Two years after U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan, the United States remains the largest donor to the Afghan people. In that time, the United States has appropriated or otherwise made available $11.11 billion in assistance to Afghanistan and to Afghan refugees. This includes nearly $2.52 billion in U.S. appropriations for Afghanistan assistance, largely for humanitarian and development aid, and over $3.5 billion transferred to the Afghan Fund that is intended to recapitalize the Afghan central bank and for related purposes. In addition, the United States has obligated more than $5.08 billion in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 for the Department of Defense to transport, house, and feed Afghan evacuees.

As shown in Table I.2, more than $1.73 billion of the nearly $2.52 billion appropriated for assistance to Afghanistan since the end of FY 2021 has gone toward humanitarian assistance, representing 69% of the total, and another $404 million, or 16% of the total, went for development assistance.

Table I.2 U.S. Appropriations for Afghanistan Assistance October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2023 ($ Millions)

Funding Category FY 2022 FY 2023 Total
Humanitarian $1,077.40 $655.97 $1,733.37
Development $217.69 $185.85 $403.54
Agency Operations $229.19 $56.80 $285.99
Security $100.00 $0.00 $100.00
Total $1,624.28 $898.61 $2,522.89

Note: Numbers have been rounded. Details of accounts are presented in Table F.10, U.S. Appropriations Made Available for Afghanistan Reconstruction and Post-Withdrawal Assistance, FY 2002 to September 30, 2023.

Source: SIGAR Quarterly Report to the United States Congress, 10/30/2023, Appendix A.

Since 2021, State and USAID have used these funds to restart and begin new programs to address critical needs of the Afghan people in several key sectors—health, education, agriculture, food security, and livelihoods—and are also supporting civil society and media, focusing on women, girls, and broad human rights protections. These efforts are being implemented through NGOs, international organizations such as UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), and other implementing partners.

For example, USAID and State have obligated nearly $826 million in humanitarian assistance in FY 2023. More than half of these funds, or $422 million, will be disbursed to the WFP to provide emergency food assistance to millions of Afghans. Other funds are going to protect Afghan refugees, returnees, and other vulnerable persons; to implement life-saving health activities; to provide emergency shelter for displaced and other vulnerable people; and to deliver livelihoods programing and skills training such as courses to build literacy, skills training, and business knowledge.

Despite the lack of a presence in Afghanistan, the United States continues to remain strongly engaged in the country.

SIGAR Quarterly Report

Recent Developments

A young girl receives medical attention following an earthquake in Herat, 10/2023. (UNICEF photo/Osman Khayyam)

Humanitarian Crisis

“Unprecedented” Humanitarian Need as Winter Approaches

This quarter, Afghanistan faced “unprecedented levels of humanitarian need,” according to a UN Secretary-General report warning that the number of Afghans in need of lifesaving assistance has risen from the previously predicted 28.3 million to 29.2 million, nearly 70% of Afghanistan’s population. After decades of conflict, climate shocks, and severe economic decline, addressing this need would be challenging, the report said, with a “worsening protection environment, a marginal respite in food security, and a minimal decline in the number of people projected to be newly affected by natural disasters, and the number of undocumented returnees” from Iran and Pakistan.

Additionally, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said the 2023 Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is facing “substantial critical funding gaps… leaving vulnerable Afghan families staring down the barrel of hunger, disease, and even potential death as winter approaches.” The HRP funding request for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan was reduced by $1.3 billion in June 2023 following Taliban decrees banning women from working for international NGOs or the UN. As of October 2023, the reduced HRP request of $3.2 billion is only 33% funded with a funding gap of over $2.1 billion. The UN said 21.5 million people received humanitarian assistance from January to June 2023, but millions in additional funds will be required to meet humanitarian needs over the winter season.

Environmental threats have already negatively impacted Afghans this year. On October 8, 2023, the first in a series of 6.3 magnitude earthquakes struck Herat Province, affecting an estimated 12,110 people, including a reported 2,445 deaths. These latest environmental shocks follow flash floods in July that damaged residential houses, infrastructure, farming equipment, and acres of agricultural land, affecting 16,700 people. The reduction in agricultural output came after an already difficult spring when Moroccan locusts destroyed 9,300 hectares of crops, impacting 56,000 households in the northeast and 75,000 households in the west.

Environmental shocks such as earthquakes, floods, or crop destruction can lead to displacement and diminished access to clean drinking water, which increases vulnerability to other risks such as disease. Of the 6.6 million internally displaced persons in Afghanistan, UN OCHA estimated that 91% of new displacements were caused by natural disasters.

According to the new UN Strategic Framework issued last quarter, sustaining essential services is the number one priority in Afghanistan, and funding and operational constraints are threatening that goal. This year, 262 static and mobile health facilities and 173 mobile health and nutrition teams were discontinued, impacting access to health services for two million people. The World Food Programme provided monthly food assistance to some 13 million people at the start of 2023, but that number dropped to three million by September due to insufficient funding.

Rescuers survey a destroyed village following one of the earthquakes in Herat Province. (Photo by ©WFP)
Rescuers survey a destroyed village following one of the earthquakes in Herat Province. (Photo by ©WFP)
Rescuers survey a destroyed village following one of the earthquakes in Herat Province. (Photo by ©WFP)

Taliban Interference and Restrictions Threaten Assistance

Taliban interference into UN and NGO activities has continued to rise throughout 2023, limiting beneficiary access to lifesaving assistance. According to UN OCHA, “violence against humanitarian personnel, assets, and facilities had a significant impact on the humanitarian response in August.” Implementing partners documented 127 access incidents that challenged their ability to provide aid in August 2023, including the arrest of 26 aid workers. This represents a 73% increase in detentions compared to the same period in 2022. In addition to arrests, Taliban members are demanding staff lists and “sensitive data,” directly interfering with program activities, staff recruitment, and beneficiary selection. As a result, 49 UN humanitarian partner programs temporarily suspended operations in August, and 36 remained suspended as of September.

USAID and State also told SIGAR that agency-funded projects were affected by Taliban interference this quarter. USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance reported that some of their partner staff members had been detained this quarter by local Taliban authorities because of the staff members’ efforts to prevent the diversion of aid to non-eligible individuals. The USAID Mission office reported two additional personnel were detained between September 15 and October 12, 2023.

Food Insecurity Risk Increases as Funding Lags

According to the World Food Programme, 15.3 million people were projected to be acutely food insecure between May and October 2023, including 2.8 million people facing emergency levels of acute food insecurity. Despite the high level of need for food assistance, funding constraints have led World Food Programme to drop some 10 million people from receiving lifesaving assistance in 2023.

Afghan Refugees Waiting for U.S. Resettlement Face Deportation

This quarter, tensions escalated over the legal status of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, including many awaiting resettlement in the United States. On October 3, 2023, Pakistan’s government announced all unauthorized migrants would be expelled from the country beginning in November.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that more than 1.6 million Afghans have fled the country, including 600,000 who relocated to Pakistan, since the Taliban takeover in 2021. For two years, many of these refugees have lived in uncertainty, unsure of their legal status in Pakistan while waiting for U.S. visas. Now, their future is even more insecure.

Afghans who remain in Afghanistan and the region have two possible pathways to U.S. resettlement: (1) the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program, and (2) referral through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). SIV processing delays have only compounded over time. An April 2023 analysis by the Association of Wartime Allies estimated that at the current pace, it will take 31 years to relocate and resettle all 175,000 SIV applicants. The United States increased the total USRAP admissions ceiling to 125,000 for FY 2023, more than double that of FY 2021, but delays have pushed processing times from approximately one year to an average of four years, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Figure H.2

Visas Approved

USRAP Visas Rejected

USRAP Visas in Processing

male principal applicants

female principal applicants

female family members accompanying principal applicants

male family members accompanying principal applicants

Note: Total numbers of principal applicants and family members include 143 unknown gender family members and 260 unknown gender principal applicants.

Source: USRAP, USRAP Production data base, accessed 9/27/2023.

As illustrated in graphic H.2, there were 51,116 principal applicants accounted for in the USRAP database as of September 27, 2023. Just 34% are women, despite the Taliban’s ongoing discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan. In contrast, 55% of accompanying family members are women and girls. State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration said the explanation for the lower rate of female principal applicants is the gender-based employment discrepancy in Afghanistan, which favors males over females, given the eligible employment criteria for referrals.

Taliban Governance

We have been clear to the Taliban that, to earn legitimacy and credibility, they will need to consistently respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans,

State Department told SIGAR.

The United States continues to engage with the Taliban on issues of mutual interest. On July 30–31, 2023, a delegation, headed by U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West, Special Envoy Rina Amiri, and Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to Afghanistan Karen Decker, met with senior Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar. According to the State Department, U.S. officials “identified areas of confidence building in support of the Afghan people,” and expressed “deep concern regarding the humanitarian crisis.” U.S. officials also “took note of the Taliban’s continuing commitment to not allow the territory of Afghanistan to be used by anyone to threaten the United States and its allies,” and acknowledged a decrease in large-scale terrorist attacks against Afghan civilians.

Taliban Appoint New Officials

This quarter, supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada continued to appoint senior and district-level Taliban officials, including two new governors in Takhar and Badakhshan Provinces, where the terror groups Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) have expanded their presence in recent years. Both governors are reportedly affiliated with the Haqqani Network, a faction within the Taliban, and support the TTP. This leadership shift follows the Taliban’s August announcement that 10 non-local Taliban officials would replace governors and security officials in eight provinces across northeastern Afghanistan, leading to reports of armed clashes.

Human rights in Afghanistan are in a state of collapse,

UN Human Rights Commissioner Volker Türk told the Human Rights Commission on September 13, 2023.

Repressive Legal System Violates Rights

This quarter, the Taliban abolished all political parties. According to Abdul Hakim Shar’i, “There is no Sharia basis for political parties to operate in the country. They do not serve the national interest, nor does the nation appreciate them.” Prior to the Taliban takeover, 70 political parties were registered with the former Ministry of Justice. Power is now consolidated under the unilateral control of the supreme leader and his close associates.

In September, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a report citing 1,600 instances of human rights violations by Taliban police and the general directorate of intelligence related to the arrest and detention of individuals between January 2022 and July 2023. Almost half of those comprised acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Of the 1,600 violations, 259 instances caused physical suffering, including by asphyxiation, suspension from the ceiling, and electrical shocks; 207 instances caused mental suffering, including threats to kill the detainee or their family, blindfolding, and restraining or extended periods of time; 18 people died in Taliban custody; and 19 individuals were held in solitary confinement, one for 50 days. UNAMA reported that instances of torture were likely underreported, representing a fraction of the violations in Afghanistan.

This quarter, UNAMA released a new report documenting the Taliban’s targeting of former government officials and former armed forces members, despite the group’s promise of amnesty when they took power. The report documented at least 800 human rights violations by Taliban officials against former government officials and former members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), including at least 218 extrajudicial killings, in violation of international humanitarian law.

“Gender Apartheid” Under Taliban Rule

This quarter, several multilateral institutions and international NGOs released statements arguing the Taliban’s abuses against women and girls constitute crimes against humanity. In June 2023, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls presented a report to the UN Human Rights Council on the Taliban’s “widespread and systematic discrimination” of women and girls in Afghanistan. UN representatives concluded that the Taliban in Afghanistan have instituted a system of “gender apartheid.”

Given the complex legal definition of apartheid, some human rights defenders have avoided using the term, and instead focus on how the Taliban’s policies of gender persecution constitute a crime against humanity, according to the guiding statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC in the Hague includes gender persecution under the umbrella of crimes against humanity. On September 8, 2023, Human Rights Watch issued a report arguing that the Taliban’s policies affecting women and girls constitute a crime against humanity.

Human Rights Watch argues that the restrictions targeting women and girls meet the four requirements of a crime against humanity, as listed in the Rome Statute: (1) the attack is “widespread and systematic;” (2) the attack is directed against a “civilian population;” (3) the acts are committed “with knowledge of the attack;” and (4) the acts are “pursuant to or in furtherance of a state or organizational policy to commit such an attack.”

Women wait at a maternal health hospital, the only one of its type in Afghanistan. (Photo by ©UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani)
Women wait at a maternal health hospital, the only one of its type in Afghanistan. (Photo by ©UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani)
Women wait at a maternal health hospital, the only one of its type in Afghanistan. (Photo by ©UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani)

Public Health

The public health situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, despite coordination between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Taliban ministry of public health. The most recently available WHO data from July finds 17.6 million people in need of health assistance and critical shortages in health care personnel, with just 3.5 doctors and 1.6 midwives per 10,000 people. According to WHO, Afghanistan’s health care system is facing a “significant funding deficiency,” that will have “devastating impact to health of Afghans, especially women and children.” Without additional funding, WHO said, eight million people will lose access to essential and potentially lifesaving health assistance, 450,000 patients will lose access to trauma care, and 875,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

Red Cross Ends Management of 25 Hospitals

A representative from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced this quarter that the ICRC was ending its support for 25 hospitals on August 31, 2023, after 20 months of partnering with the Taliban ministry of public health. The ICRC said in a statement, “The ICRC does not have the mandate nor the resources to maintain a fully functioning public health care sector in the longer term.” The ICRC, which began operating the hospitals after the fall of the government in August 2021 when Afghanistan’s financial crisis and departing development partners pushed the health care system towards collapse, said it was decreasing its funding of the hospitals due to financial difficulties.

Education: More Restrictions on Girls’ Education, Increase in Madrassas, Rise of Secret Schools

This quarter, the Taliban imposed informal, stricter measures on girls’ education in certain provinces. Unlike the formal edicts that announced nationwide bans on women and girls’ education and freedom of movement and work, the new ban on girls’ education is localized and not imposed nationwide. It prevents girls beyond the third grade or older than 10 years of age from attending school in 10 provinces, according to State. USAID confirmed that “these local restrictions are very fluid…they may have been hyper-localized or that they are not consistently held throughout the quarter.”

The Taliban practice a “top-down reorientation and unquestioning obedience” approach to impose what they call their fekri jagra or “war on thoughts,” according to analysis by the Afghanistan Analysts Network. The Taliban are promoting “Talibanisation, theocratization, and instrumentalization of the fekri jagra,” by replacing high-level ministry of education officials and university faculty with Taliban members. The Taliban have also established new religious studies disciplines and required all public and private higher education institutions to follow the Taliban’s new religious studies curricula.

Afghan girls attend class with PenPath volunteering as instructors. (PenPath via @atta_wesa)
Afghan girls attend class with PenPath volunteering as instructors. (PenPath via @atta_wesa)
Afghan girls attend class with PenPath volunteering as instructors. (PenPath via @atta_wesa)

This quarter, a UN report cited the Taliban claim that there are currently 15,000 madrassas in Afghanistan, “all funded through the national budget and reportedly using curricula focused on religious subjects with a few courses on modern sciences.” On June 23, 2023, the Taliban minister of education announced that “the Taliban leader has approved the recruitment of 100,000 madrassa teachers.” According to the UN, although girls are prevented from attending secondary schools, they can attend madrassas beyond the sixth grade. However, a former education official told SIGAR that “Taliban are now closing madrassas for women, not just schools… in the central, northern, and western regions of Afghanistan.”

In the wake of harsher restrictions on girls’ education, some Afghans have resorted to turning their homes into secret schools. Recent media reports confirm that although the Taliban have warned that those operating and attending secret schools will be punished, some Afghan women and girls risk their lives daily to get an education. Given the increasing restrictions on women and girls’ movement outside their homes, students reported that they find different routes, meet at secret rendezvouses, and often change their school locations to ensure that they are not discovered.

U.S. Counterterrorism Coordination with the Taliban

U.S. officials met with Taliban officials on July 30–31 to discuss Taliban efforts to uphold their counterterrorism commitments under the Doha Agreement. Following the meeting, a U.S. intelligence official reportedly said the United States is sharing counterterrorism information with the Taliban, but not “actionable intelligence,” or targeting data. The United States has previously, and tangentially, coordinated counter-IS-K activities with the Taliban.


Due to the disruption to international banking transfers and liquidity challenges since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, the UN transports cash to Afghanistan for use by UN agencies and its approved partners. State told SIGAR that the UN cash shipments—averaging in $80 million each—arrive in Kabul every 10–14 days. According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), all cash is placed in designated UN accounts in a private bank; none of the cash brought into Afghanistan is deposited in the central bank or provided to the Taliban. UNAMA said the cash is carefully monitored, audited, inspected, and vetted in accordance with UN financial rules and processes. From December 2021 to July 2023, the UN reported transferring $2.9 billion to support humanitarian operations. According to the World Bank, UN cash inflows were around $1.1 billion as of August 2023, following the $1.8 billion in cash shipments in 2022.

This quarter, the Taliban announced they have entered into seven mining agreements, valued at $6.5 billion, with local and regional entities, including Chinese, Iranian, Turkish, British, Kazakh, and Afghan mining companies. The Taliban minister of economic affairs projected thousands of Afghan jobs would result. However, Afghan mining experts said any such figure would be “misleading unless they lead to fully realized mining operations on the ground, which could take years.” State told SIGAR that “none of the agreements announced this quarter purporting to be valued at $6.5 billion have resulted in jobs, construction, or revenue.”


On June 25, 2023, Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada announced that poppy cultivation had been eradicated in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s April 2022 ban on opium. The British geographic information service Alcis produced satellite images of eastern and southern provinces that confirmed a drastic reduction across Afghanistan, leading to the lowest levels of poppy cultivation since the Taliban’s 2000–2001 ban. In Helmand, poppy cultivation decreased by almost 99% from April 2022 to April 2023. Similarly, Nangarhar, a major poppy-producing province, saw an 84% reduction in the same period.

Poppy grown in Helmand Province comparing 2022 with 2023 as a result of the Taliban’s crackdown. (Images used with permission from Alcis website)

Slide to Compare

2022 (249,709 ha poppy)

2023 (204,447 ha poppy)

U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan

An Afghan woman washes dishes in isolation. (Photo by @OCHAAfg)

The United States remains the largest donor to the Afghan people, having provided more than $1.9 billion since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, including nearly $1.4 billion from USAID and nearly $494 million from the State Department.

In addition to direct U.S. assistance to the people of Afghanistan, the United States is also the single largest donor to the United Nations’ humanitarian programming in Afghanistan. Through the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), the UN leads international efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance directly to Afghans, including food, shelter, cash, and household supplies. USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) currently supports several HRP programs. According to BHA, USAID prioritizes direct food assistance and other avenues to help reduce food insecurity, including by promoting health, nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene. Table E.1 provides an overview of these ongoing programs in Afghanistan and the total cost of each.

Table E.1 USAID BHA Active Programs in Afghanistan

Program Supported Start Date End Date Award Amount
Emergency Food and Nutrition Assistance and Air Services 12/7/2022 12/6/2023 $267,134,491
WASH Response and Humanitarian Assistance Program 7/1/2022 6/30/2024 $54,800,000
Project Name Withheld at Request of USAID 12/19/2022 11/18/2024 $40,000,000
Project Name Withheld at Request of USAID 12/19/2022 11/18/2024 $36,000,000
Integrated Nutrition, Cash, WASH, and Protection Services 12/15/2022 12/14/2023 $35,000,000
Project Name Withheld at Request of USAID 1/1/2023 11/30/2024 $28,000,000
Project Name Withheld at Request of USAID 1/1/2023 11/30/2024 $20,500,000
Project Name Withheld at Request of USAID 5/1/2023 3/31/2025 $14,900,000
Project Name Withheld at Request of USAID 12/1/2022 10/31/2024 $14,900,000
Project Name Withheld at Request of USAID 12/1/2022 10/31/2024 $13,000,000
Provision of Lifesaving GBV Prevention and Response 6/10/22 12/31/2023 $6,500,000
Project Name Withheld at Request of USAID 3/1/2022 12/31/2023 $4,756,243
Project Name Withheld at Request of USAID 5/1/2022 10/31/2023 $4,500,000
Provision of Lifesaving GBV Prevention and Response, MRH services in Emergency through Mobile Health Teams (MHTs) & Strengthen the AAP mechanism and capacity/human resources 8/7/2023 8/6/2024 $3,450,000
Information Mgmt. for Disaster Risk Reduction and Response 1/1/2023 12/31/2023 $1,200,000
Information Mgmt. for Disaster Risk Reduction and Response 1/1/2023 12/31/2023 $500,000
Information Mgmt. for Disaster Risk Reduction and Response 1/1/2023 12/31/2023 $361,800
Total $547,102,534

Source: USAID, BHA, response to SIGAR data call, 10/10/2023.

As part of the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan issued in March, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) originally sought $4.6 billion to assist 23.7 million Afghans with lifesaving and protection assistance in 2023. On June 5, 2023, the UN revised its HRP request to $3.2 billion after the Taliban banned Afghan women from working for the UN in April. In a statement on the funding decrease, the UN said, “[t]he recent bans on Afghan women working for… NGOs and the UN have added yet another layer of complexity to what is already an incredibly challenging protection environment, and further constrained the operational capacity of partners.” As of October 2023, the 2023 HRP is only 33% funded. The United States remains the single largest contributor, having donated over $400 million thus far.

This quarter, USAID told SIGAR that implementing partners receive Taliban “visits to their offices, verbal warnings, and in some cases are forced to pause implementation until a local agreement can be negotiated.” To limit the impact of the Taliban’s ban on female staff, implementing partners use “a variety of strategies to enable women’s return to work” including “separating male and female offices, having female and male staff arrive at and leave the office at different times, having separate entrances for female and male staff, asking female staff to work remotely, supporting female staff to travel with a male chaperone, etc.” These conditions are agreed upon through memoranda of understanding signed between USAID’s implementing partners and the Taliban. However, USAID said implementing partners reported that a lack of signed MOUs and increasing restrictions on female staff continue to be primary challenges to their work in Afghanistan.

USAID Programs in Afghanistan

USAID’s Office of Livelihoods (OLH) continued supporting economic growth activities in Afghanistan with total estimated costs of more than $139 million. USAID has two active economic growth programs—the Afghanistan Competitiveness of Export-Oriented Businesses Activity and the Turquoise Mountain Trust - Exports, Jobs, and Market Linkages in Carpet and Jewelry Value Chains activity. USAID’s two other economic growth programs ended—Extractives Technical Assistance by the U.S. Geological Survey on June 30, 2023, and Livelihood Advancement of Marginalized Populations on August 1, 2023. Final data on these programs were not available as this report went to press.

This quarter, USAID’s Office of Livelihoods continued to support agriculture activities in Afghanistan with total estimated costs of $164,958,860.

USAID’s Office of Social Services (OSS) supports education development activities in Afghanistan, with total estimated costs of $146,113,562. USAID continues to support education for girls in primary school and women’s higher education, but reported that the Taliban ban on girls’ secondary and higher education has directly impacted OSS activities in these areas. OSS continues to focus on sustaining higher education opportunities in fields granted special exemptions by the Taliban ministry of health, such as midwifery degree programs, and through virtual, online, and distance learning, while prioritizing the safety and privacy of female students and educators.

Girls Education Challenge Struggles with Taliban Policy

The Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) is a collaboration between USAID and the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, and implemented by a large consortium of partners. GEC provides students in 15 rural provinces with critical education resources and opportunities through community-based classes and accelerated learning programs. Students completed their learning programs in August 2023 and GEC is scheduled to close on December 31, 2023.

Public Health Programs

USAID continues to implement public health initiatives in Afghanistan valued at $309,311,524. In the last week of August, the Taliban ministry of public health issued a letter stating that personnel from health-related projects were not permitted to distribute cash to patients or visit personal homes as part of their activities. The directive was also given to the UN and non-USAID-affiliated NGOs. USAID told SIGAR that, as of October 2023, implementing partners have not reported any direct implications for project activities because of the letter, but noted it does not have information on the directive’s intent.

A health worker visits a family in the Afghan capital, Kabul (Twitter photo from ©UNICEF/Arezo Haidary)
A health worker visits a family in the Afghan capital, Kabul (Twitter photo from ©UNICEF/Arezo Haidary)
A health worker visits a family in the Afghan capital, Kabul (Twitter photo from ©UNICEF/Arezo Haidary)

Information, Dialogue, and Rights in Afghanistan Extended Until 2026

In September 2022, USAID started the Supporting Media Freedom and Access to Information in Afghanistan program. Last quarter, USAID modified the award to include a second component called “Supporting National Dialogue and Rights Advocacy” and changed the program name to Information, Dialogue, and Rights (IDR) in Afghanistan. The award was increased from $6.1 million to $11,798,379 and the performance period extended to June 30, 2026.

The program’s objective is to help deliver news and educational content to national audiences that strengthen Afghanistan’s human capital and enable citizens to freely organize and communicate. The activity aims to accomplish this by supporting independent media and reporting on rights and governance issues; developing a strong cadre of female journalists and producers; supporting journalists to operate safely; and informing Afghan citizens about critical issues of public interest.

This quarter, IDR’s media partner aired 1,931 segments of television broadcasts that focused on women’s rights, inclusive governance, service delivery, rights, and justice. The partner also increased online reach to 14.9 million people during the quarter. The majority of this engagement was driven by political and human rights content. IDR also provides journalism training and support to a core group of 25 women journalists from 13 provinces.

State Department Programs in Afghanistan

The State Department continues to provide assistance to the Afghan people. State’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) currently runs two programs supporting civil society organizations in Afghanistan. This quarter, State reported that DRL supported 50 civil society members. State does not provide support to the Taliban. DRL has obligated nearly $14.48 million in Human Rights and Democracy Fund funds for Afghanistan programming from FY 2009 through FY 2023.

An Afghan woman receives food from the World Food Programme in Jalalabad, 9/5/2023. (WFP photo by Mohammad Hasib Hazinyar)
An Afghan woman receives food from the World Food Programme in Jalalabad, 9/5/2023. (WFP photo by Mohammad Hasib Hazinyar)
An Afghan woman receives food from the World Food Programme in Jalalabad, 9/5/2023. (WFP photo by Mohammad Hasib Hazinyar)

Support for Refugees and Internally Displaced People

This quarter, USAID and the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) continued to implement assistance provided in FY 2022 and FY 2023 to support Afghan refugees and internally displaced people. This assistance included:

  • More than $80 million from State PRM to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Afghanistan under the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, as well as over $39 million to UNHCR under the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan
  • Roughly $8.3 million from USAID and more than $20.2 million from State PRM to UNFPA to support health and protection programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • About $13.5 million from State PRM and over $63 million from USAID to the International Organization for Migration to support health, shelter and settlement, and water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Removing Explosive Remnants of War

The State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) manages the conventional-weapons destruction program in Afghanistan. PM/WRA currently supports six Afghan NGOs, one public international organization (United Nations Mine Action Service), and four international NGOs to help clear areas in Afghanistan contaminated by ERW and conventional weapons (e.g., unexploded mortar rounds).

From June–September 2023, PM/WRA implementing partners cleared 5,706,670 square meters of minefields, and destroyed 241 anti-tank mines and anti-personnel weapons, 278 items of unexploded ordnance, and 883 small arm ammunitions. PM/WRA has obligated all $15 million in FY 2022 allocated funds as of September 11, 2023.

From 1997 through September 1, 2023, State allocated over $473 million in weapons-destruction and mine-action assistance to Afghanistan. During this period, PM/WRA implementing partners have cleared a total of 367,891,636 square meters of land and destroyed 8,508,206 landmines and ERW. However, the exact number of landmines and ERW yet to be destroyed is unknown. After the fourth quarter of FY 2023, PM/WRA estimated there are 1,101 square kilometers of contaminated minefields and battlefields remaining, but this figure fluctuates with additional surveys and clearance activities’ completion.

SIGAR Oversight Activities: Highlights

A man in Herat Province stands amidst the devastation caused by the October 2023 earthquakes. (Photo by © UNICEF/Osman Khayyam)

SIGAR work to date has identified approximately $3.97 billion in savings for the U.S. taxpayer.

SIGAR issued eight products this quarter, including this quarterly report. Among those products were five financial audits of U.S.-funded projects in Afghanistan that identified $530,628 in questioned costs as a result of internal-control deficiencies and noncompliance issues by U.S. government contractors. During the reporting period, SIGAR’s criminal investigations resulted in $50,000 in U.S. government cost savings.

Following the U.S. withdrawal and the collapse of the former Afghan government, SIGAR’s investigations and criminal inquiries into corruption-related theft of U.S. taxpayer monies spent in and on Afghanistan continue. To date, SIGAR investigations have resulted in a cumulative total of 169 criminal convictions. Criminal fines, restitutions, forfeitures, civil settlements, and U.S. government cost savings and recoveries total approximately $1.67 billion.

During the reporting period, SIGAR continued to meet with and obtain information from cooperating law enforcement agencies and the Department of Justice to initiate criminal inquiries and gather evidence as part of SIGAR’s Follow the Money and Capital Flight initiatives.

An August 15, 2023, the United Nations Development Programme informed SIGAR that it had removed an Afghan business entity from consideration for grant awards totaling $50,000 based on extensive information provided by SIGAR.

Status of Funds

This quarter, Status of Funds has changed its reporting framework to focus primarily on U.S. funds appropriated, obligated, and disbursed for purposes defined by SIGAR’s statutory oversight mandate in the period following the August 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

U.S. funds appropriated to the six largest active accounts, as well as funds appropriated to other assistance and agency operations accounts following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, are presented in Figure F.1.

  • Total appropriations for the FY 2022 and FY 2023 period ending September 30, 2023, exceed $2.52 billion, with the two humanitarian assistance accounts, International Disaster Assistance and Migration and Refugee Assistance, accounting for more than $1.73 billion, or 69%, of the total amount.
  • Congress appropriated $100 million to the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) in September 2022 to provide the Department of Defense with additional obligation authority to settle ASFF-funded contracts originally obligated before the Taliban takeover in August 2021.
  • Appropriations of $789.52 million were made to another 12 accounts for a variety of programming purposes and for agency operating costs.
Figure F.1 U.S. Appropriations Supporting Afghanistan Assistance, FY 2022 and FY 2023 ($ Billions)
Figure F.1 U.S. Appropriations Supporting Afghanistan Assistance, FY 2022 and FY 2023 ($ Billions)

Afghanistan Funding Pipeline

Each quarter, SIGAR examines the amount of funding that Congress has authorized for spending on activities subject to SIGAR oversight that remain available for disbursement at the most recent quarter-end.

Funds remaining available for possible disbursement for any given account consist of two broad components: (1) funds that have been appropriated and allocated to the account for Afghanistan programming, but not yet obligated for these purposes, and (2) funds that have been obligated for Afghanistan programming, but not yet disbursed under the obligated contract (unliquidated obligations).

Table F.2, Funds Remaining Available for Possible Disbursement, presents these two components for each of the six largest active accounts.

International Assistance for Afghanistan

The international community has provided significant funding to support Afghanistan relief efforts through multilateral institutions in the period since the U.S. withdrawal.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports on donor contributions, principally from member states but also from development finance institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to UN agencies and nongovernmental humanitarian assistance organizations, and these donors are reported to have contributed more than $5.11 billion for Afghanistan from January 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023, as shown in Figure F.4. The United States has contributed more than $1.77 billion to these organizations, representing nearly one-third of the total amount.

U.S. Appropriations for Afghanistan Reconstruction and Post-Withdrawal Assistance

U.S. appropriations for Afghanistan reconstruction spanned the FY 2002 to FY 2021 period and amounted to nearly $144.71 billion. U.S. assistance following the U.S. withdrawal in FY 2022 and FY 2023 has amounted to more than $2.52 billion. The accounts to which U.S. appropriations were made available, and the amounts that were made available in these two periods, are set forth in Table F.10, U.S. Appropriations Made Available for Afghanistan Reconstruction and Post-Withdrawal Assistance, FY 2002 to September 30, 2023

Table F.10 U.S. Appropriations for Afghanistan Reconstruction and Post-Withdrawal Assistance Table
Table F.10 U.S. Appropriations for Afghanistan Reconstruction and Post-Withdrawal Assistance Table