WASHINGTON, Nov 30 — The World Bank will consider a compromise plan to release humanitarian aid for Afghanistan by shifting funds intended for rebuilding efforts, a source told AFP yesterday.

The bank’s management will discuss the proposal at an informal board meeting today to re-direct funds from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) “to support humanitarian efforts through UN and other humanitarian agencies with presence and logistic capabilities in the country,” the source said, without providing further details.

The United Nations has warned that around 22 million Afghans, or more than half the country, will face an “acute” food shortage in the winter months due to the combined effects of drought caused by global warming and an economic crisis aggravated by the Taliban takeover in August.

The financial crunch worsened after Washington froze about US$10 billion (RM42.3 billion) of the country’s reserves and deteriorated further after the World Bank and International Monetary Fund halted Afghanistan’s access to funding.

The World Bank move is part of a compromise struck with the United Nations and the US government, and could shift up to US$500 million from the ARTF to humanitarian groups, according to a report by the Reuters news agency citing people familiar with the plan.

That would unlock aid but bypass the Taliban.

The next steps and timing of the release would be up to the ARTF donors, the source told AFP.

The fund currently has 34 donors and was “the largest single source of funding for Afghanistan’s development, financing up to 30 per cent of Afghanistan’s civilian budget, and supporting core functions of the government,” according to the website. — AFP