Taliban On The Take For More Than $1 Million Every Day

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Sept. 11, 2012 – The Taliban are raking in more than $1 million every day through extortion, the drugs trade, and skimming from international aid projects.

A report from the U.N. Security Council’s Sanctions Monitoring Team estimates that the group had income of about $400 million from March 21, 2011 to March 20, 2012 (the Afghan calendar year).

About one-third of that money is used to finance attacks, which are increasing in intensity and frequency.

There were 3,021 civilians killed in Afghanistan last year (double the number recorded in 2007) and more than 75 percent of the deaths were attributed to anti-government forces, namely the Taliban and its associated networks.

The report says the Taliban raised about $100 million from the drugs trade by taxing poppy farmers, providing protection for drug convoys, and from taxing heroin laboratories. 

Shopkeepers and other small businesses are taxed between 2.5 – 10 percent by the Taliban, despite the group providing no government services.

One of the most fruitful sources of income for the Taliban is the international aid sector.

In one instance recorded in the report, the Taliban took $360 million from a $2.16 billion contract awarded to an Afghan trucking company by the United States military over a period of three years.

“Organizations involved in providing development assistance regard these overheads as a cost of doing business,” the report says. 

Fifteen individuals associated with Taliban finances are on the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions list and subject to an assets freeze and travel ban.

“However, the sanctions themselves do not appear yet to have disrupted the financial arrangements of the Taliban,” the report states.

Average weekly income in Afghanistan is about $18 and only seven percent of Afghans have a bank account, according to U.N. and World Bank figures.

Full UNSC Sanctions Monitoring Team report here.

– Denis Fitzgerald

Only 14 Countries Have Contributed to U.N. Humanitarian Appeal for Syria

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Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos speaks with a young Syrian refugee living in a school in Zahera, Damascus in this Aug. 14 photo (credit: UN)

Sept. 4, 2013 – Less than 10 percent of U.N. members states have stumped up funds to assist the 2.5 million Syrians that the United Nations says are in need of assistance.

An appeal launched on June 5 called for $180 million to assist what was then 1.5 million Syrians inside the country needing aid (the corresponding figure for Syrians in neighboring countries needing assistance was 83,000 – it’s now 225,000).

Donations to the humanitarian action plan for Syria currently stand at $95 million.

Figures released by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Tuesday show that only 14 of the 193 U.N. member states have contributed to the $180 million appeal.

The largest tranche has come from the U.N.’s own emergency relief fund, CERF, which has released almost US$26 million to the Syria appeal.

The top donor country is the United States, $24 million, followed by the U.K, $8.6 million, and Canada, $5.5 million, (the European Commission has donated $9.3 million).

Kuwait is the only one of the wealthy Arab Gulf countries to contribute to the June appeal, donating $250,000.

A full donor list is here.

– Denis Fitzgerald

(Note: The U.N. has received funds from some 30 countries totaling $200 million for all of its various appeals for Syria since the beginning of 2012)