The Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act of 2021 (S. 2863) proposed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member James Risch (R-ID) includes a statement of policy supporting humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and clear sanctions exceptions for humanitarian purposes. In addition to allowing activities such as health services and provision of commodities to meet basic human needs, the exception is more inclusive of nonprofit organizations’ programming than the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s General Licenses 14 and 15, by including democracy building, projects that support rule of law, education and related projects. Transactions necessary to carry out these projects would also be permitted. The bill has 29 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The main focus of S. 2863 is on the U.S. foreign policy position regarding Taliban control of the government in Afghanistan and the U.S. withdrawal from the country and creating new sanctions. However, several provisions address humanitarian assistance.  In Section 401(b) the bill supports humanitarian assistance provided that it is not delivered “to or through the Taliban or entities controlled by the Taliban.” It also requires the President to brief Congress on the administration’s strategy to “ensure the safe and timely delivery of targeted humanitarian assistance.”

Section 606(b)(3) covers waivers, exceptions and suspension. It specifically includes:

(i) projects to meet basic human needs in Afghanistan, including—

(I) disaster relief;

(II) assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict victims;

(III) provision of health services;

(IV) provision of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, medical devices, or other articles to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

(ii) Activities to support democracy building in Afghanistan, including projects relating to the rule of law, citizen participation, government accountability, and civil society development.

(iii) Activities determined by the Secretary of State to be appropriate for sup5 porting education in Afghanistan and that do not directly benefit the Taliban, including combating illiteracy, increasing access to education, particularly for girls, and assisting education reform projects.

(iv) Activities that do not directly benefit the Taliban to prevent infectious disease and promote maternal and child health, food security, and clean water assistance.

(v) Transactions necessary and incident to activities described in clauses (i) through (v).

(vi) Transactions incident to travel into or out of Afghanistan on a commercial or charter flight or through a land border crossing.