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World Bank cuts funding to Afghanistan over concerns about Taliban rule

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World Bank cuts funding to Afghanistan over concerns about Taliban rule
Taliban fighters patrol outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday. Photo by Bashir Darwish/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 25 (UPI) -- The World Bank has ended financial support to Afghanistan over concerns about the new Taliban rule and the militant group's past suppression of women's rights.

When the Taliban ruled in the 1990s up until the U.S. invasion in 2001, women were forced to wear body-covering attire and they weren't allowed to attend school or work.

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Since ousting the Western-supported government last week, there have been widespread concerns that the group may return to their fundamentalist ideologies.

"We are deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and the impact on the country's development prospects, especially for women," World Bank spokesperson Marcela Sanchez-Bender said, according to CNN.

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The World Bank has given Afghanistan $5.3 billion for reconstruction and development since 2002 and had a dozen active projects going in the country that amounted to $940 million in financial commitments.

The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, a separate program, had promised $1.2 billion for a number of projects there.

"We have paused disbursements in our operations in Afghanistan and we are closely monitoring and assessing the situation in line with our internal policies and procedures," a World Bank spokesperson told BBC News.

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"We are exploring ways we can remain engaged to preserve hard-won development gains and continue to support the people of Afghanistan."

The United States and other western countries are struggling to evacuate citizens and civilian Afghan aides from Kabul's airport. The Taliban has threatened violence if the United States doesn't stick to its Aug. 31 deadline to complete the withdrawal.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he's decided not to extend the deadline.

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