Banks in Kabul reopen, drawing cash starved afghans

Written by on August 25, 2021

After more than a week of closures, banks in Afghanistan are starting to reopen, drawing crowds of hundreds of people eager to finally have physical cash in their hands once again.

 

Financial institutions in Kabul largely shut on the afternoon of August 15 2021, just before the former President Ashraf Ghani fled and the Taliban arrived in the capital.

 

Initially, the closings were in response to fears that the group’s arrival in the city would see bloodshed and looting. As the days passed, though, the banks remained shuttered due to Washington’s decision to cut off access to $7bn of the Afghan Central Bank’s gold and cash reserves in the Federal Reserve. The International Monetary Fund also cut off access to more than $370m in loans it had promised.

 

These cancellations came just days after tens of thousands of people had flocked to banks and ATMs across the capital to withdraw as much of their money before the impending Taliban arrival as possible.

 

In a cash-based society like Afghanistan, the dual blows of being without paper money for even a few days and the downfall of yet another regime, left people fearing not only for tomorrow but the weeks and months ahead.

 

Massoud, 35, has spent the last 10 days in Kabul wondering how to provide for his family in the Northern province of Kunduz. He has 20,000 Afghanis ($232) in the bank, from his time in the Afghan Military, but even with the banks reopened, accessing it could take several more days.

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