Treasury updates sanctions guide for charities after Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

The government has updated its sanctions guidance for charities following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August. 

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, which operates out of the Treasury, said the Taliban’s resurgence in the country had created “a complex situation where people subject to financial sanctions in the UK now claim to be in positions of authority”.

The OFSI said the UK had enforced financial sanctions relating to Afghanistan since 1999, which come from United Nations resolutions, and had an obligation to implement and enforce them. 

The updates include advice on due diligence when using informal value transfer systems for transferring funds including the Hawala system that operates in Afghanistan.

It said in a blog post: “A number of individuals and entities, including members of the Taliban are subject to UN sanctions. 

“The UK has not implemented sanctions against the Taliban as an entity and in the absence of an applicable derogation in the relevant UN resolution, the UK is unable to grant a humanitarian licence.

“The UK supports the delivery of aid to Afghanistan that will be used for humanitarian purposes. 

“We appreciate at these difficult times there may be barriers to this delivery but recognise that now more than ever efforts are needed in the region to prevent a worsening humanitarian crisis.

“We support a targeted approach to sanctions, so that they are effective against sanctions targets while minimising unnecessary disruption or delay of legitimate humanitarian activity.”

The OFSI said the government was committed to engaging with the sector “to understand the barriers to legitimate humanitarian activities and to assist where possible”.

It said it would be hosting a webinar alongside the Charity Commission to help provide additional clarity for charities operating in what it described as “high-risk jurisdictions” such as Afghanistan. 

Any charities that become aware of a sanction breach are advised to report it to the OFSI as soon as possible.

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