$12.3 million 'found stashed' at former Afghan leaders' homes amidst food crisis

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Around $12.3 million in the form of cash and gold bars have been found at the homes and offices of some Afghan dignitaries who belonged to Afghanistan's previous regime, according to the Afghan Central Bank.

"The money found came from senior leaders of the previous government, such as Amrullah Saleh, and some security agencies that kept cash and gold in their offices," according to the statement by the Central Bank. Saleh was the former vice president of Afghanistan and stepped in as the country's 'caretaker' president after Ashraf Ghani fled in August.

The Taliban denounced the former regime for corruption after they seized control of the country one month ago. They have since praised their own integrity regarding national finances, with the Central Bank claiming they transferred everything "to the national coffers" in the name of "transparency".

The findings come just two days after foreign donors pledged a collective $1.1 billion to help Afghanistan as it was plunged into poverty and hunger since the Taliban takeover.

Despite billions of dollars of aid flows abruptly ending when the Taliban took control, Afghanistan's neighbours, China and Pakistan have already begun sending money and coronavirus vaccines. The US has pledged $64 million and Norway pledged an extra $11.5 million.

Speaking at a UN conference on Afghanistan, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said it was too early to say how much had been promised in response to the appeal.

The relief money is needed more than ever, as Afghans are facing "perhaps their most perilous hour", he said.

What is the situation on the ground?

Four million Afghans are facing “a food emergency”, according to the UN, and The World Food Programme said 14 million people are on the brink of starvation across the country.

There are widespread concerns that food supplies could run out completely as winter approaches. Money is needed to plant winter grain and feed livestock so harvests can remain fruitful in a country that relies on agriculture for 25% of the country's GDP.

70% of the population of Afghanistan live in rural areas and it is many of these communities that are also suffering from a severe drought affecting 7.3 million Afghans in 25 of the country’s 34 provinces.

In the cities, people who depended on the government to pay their wages, like police and civil servants, have not received their salaries since July.

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