Human rights advocates are demanding that the United States immediately release billions of dollars which it seized from Afghanistan\u0026#039;s Central Bank after ending its 20-year military occupation of the country last year, causing a devastating hunger crisis that has already killed thousands of Afghan newborns in 2022.\r\n\r\n\u0022The country needs a functioning Central Bank. Aid is not enough.\u0022\r\n\r\nWith 95% of the country unable to access sufficient food due to the currency crisis, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported last week that 13,000 newborn babies have died of malnutrition and hunger-related diseases since January, warning that \u0022time is running out\u0022 to address hunger in the impoverished country.\r\n\r\n\u0022This suffering is on the U.S. government,\u0022 said anti-war group CodePink Monday in response to reports that as many as 3.5 million Afghan children need urgent nutrition support.\r\n\r\nAfter spending months sitting on more than $9 billion it seized from the central bank last summer after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the Biden administration last month announced it would commit $3.5 billion to unspecified humanitarian efforts.\r\n\r\nBut as HRW reported last week, the U.S. sanctions on the Taliban have left international banks wary of allowing aid groups to transfer funds into the country, while currency shortages are forcing Afghan banks to limit withdrawals.\r\n\r\n\u0022The country needs a functioning central bank,\u0022 said Birgit Schwarz, a communications manager for the organization. \u0022Aid is not enough.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAs Ryan Cooper wrote at The American Prospect last month, the seizure of Afghan funds has \u0022caused all the problems one might expect.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The banking system has ceased to function,\u0022 he wrote. \u0022Businesses can\u0026#039;t find credit and have resorted to mass bankruptcies and layoffs; people can\u0026#039;t get enough cash; the country can\u0026#039;t afford necessary imports; and the value of the currency is collapsing.\u0022\r\n\r\nCodePink noted that the Biden administration\u0026#039;s decision to split the funds it seized last year, reserving $3.5 billion for families who lost loved ones on September 11—over the objections of many of those family members—\u0022undoubtedly exacerbated this horrific crisis.\u0022\r\n\r\nAccording to a report last week by the BBC, hospitals run by charities like Doctors Withour Borders (MSF) have become \u0022completely overwhelmed.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022One in every five children admitted to critical care is dying,\u0022 wrote Yogita Limaye, \u0022and the situation at the hospital has been made worse in recent weeks by the spread of the highly contagious measles disease that damages the body\u0026#039;s immune system, a deadly blow for babies already suffering from malnutrition.\u0022\r\n\r\nWhile the director of one humanitarian group told HRW last week that children across the country \u0022are only skin on bones now,\u0022 Cooper noted that \u0022there is likely enough food in Afghanistan for all Afghans to survive, and in any case more could be imported as needed.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The main problem is the shattering recession and currency crisis that has crushed the Afghan economy since American troops withdrew,\u0022 he wrote. \u0022Occupation spending accounted for about 40% of the country\u0026#039;s GDP, and three-quarters of its government budget. Most Afghans can\u0026#039;t afford food that would otherwise be readily available.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe country\u0026#039;s hunger crisis is \u0022absolutely heartbreaking\u0022 as well as \u0022preventable,\u0022 said MSNBC journalist Mehdi Hasan.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAccording to Sara Sirota of The Intercept, lawmakers including Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) are calling on the Biden administration \u0022to move more quickly to try to... loosen up the banking system.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022We absolutely could be moving more money more quickly,\u0022 said Murphy on Monday.