Banks Are Closed and Balkh Residents Are Struggling Financially

Every day, hundreds of residents in Mazar-e-Sharif come to the banks’ branches to withdraw cash from their accounts. This includes men and women from all over the northern city.

A number of Balkh residents told our reporters that they had repeatedly visited the banks to withdraw money, but all branches had been closed. However, local Taliban officials in Balkh said they had asked banking officials to step in quickly to resolve the people’s monetary problems.

The central bank issued a statement on Tuesday (September 14th) reassuring the public that the banks’ normal operations would resume soon. According to the Central Bank of Afghanistan, commercial banks have full immunity. The central bank said in a statement that the banks would resume their activities without corruption.

Mohammad Karim has been waiting for a bank branch to open for about two weeks. He comes to a branch of Azizi Bank in Balkh every day from 4 am to 4 pm so that he can withdraw some money from his account and use it to deal with his daily expenses.

“I do not have a penny to buy even a single bread,” he said. “I have been coming here every day for two weeks to withdraw money from my account – when I go to the branch, it either closes or it is not my turn. ”

Mohammad Karim, who worked for a private company, lost his job after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. He has five young children and is the only working member in the family.

“I worked in a private company, my monthly salary was deposited to my bank account and I was saving money for my children,” said Mohammad Karim, who does not want to mention his respective company. “Now, however, that I’m unemployed, I’m having trouble finding money for my daily expenses, and I can no longer use my bank account.”

“If I had expected this day, I would never have saved my money in the bank.”

Shabana, 32, is a schoolteacher in Mazar-e-Sharif. She also came to the bank to get money. “I used to save a lot of money from my salary in the bank, but now banks are closed and I do not have the money to meet my needs, I do not know how to do it,” Shaban said. “I saved this money with great difficulties, now I do not sleep day and night on how to get my money back from the bank.”

For the past 20 years, the people of Afghanistan had believed in saving their money in the bank accounts. After the fall of the government and the Taliban’s takeover of the country, almost everyone who had saving in a bank wanted to get it back and were worried they might lose their money.

After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, all banks and currency exchanges in the country ceased since August 15, leaving thousands of Afghan citizens without cash and unemployed. A month after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the banks have not yet resumed their normal operations.

Banks in Kabul resumed operations on a limited basis about two weeks ago. The central bank, in coordination with the Afghan Banks Association, said that holders of individual accounts would not be paid more than $200 and/or more than 20,000 Afghanis a week. This situation, however, has not satisfied the people.

It is worth mentioning that the normal operations of the Afghan banks in all provinces has been stopped for more than a month.