Afghanistan has been named the third most corrupt country in the world, hindering reconstruction efforts in a nation still suffering after years of conflict, according to non-governmental organization Transparency International.
By dropping the country down one place from 2014, Transparency put Afghanistan above only Somalia and North Korea in its latest ranking.
“Millions of dollars that should have gone on reconstruction have been reportedly wasted or stolen, seriously undermining efforts to sustain peace,” the group said.
Child labour remains an issue in areas where citizens are trapped in poverty and corrupt officials can be paid off, it said.
“It's just one example of the devastation fuelled by corruption. Others include human trafficking, child morality, poor education standards, environmental destruction and terrorism.”
Afghan officials have repeatedly said they are targeting corruption in government, but critics argue there have been few positive results.
"[We] remain hopeful that progress in fighting corruption is still possible in Afghanistan, even with the numerous political, social, economic, and security challenges facing the country," said Afghanistan's MEC anti-corruption committee in response to the report.
The committee cautioned, however, that "the government is quickly running out of time to show concrete efforts and the necessary political will to turn around the country’s fortunes."
As one of his first measures against corruption as president, Ashraf Ghani ordered an end to the Kabul Bank scandal that put the country in a state of financial ruin. Those within the leadership of Kabul Bank were arrested and put on trial.
In November, the government singed a real estate deal with one of the lead former bankers, Khalilullah Ferozi. After public outcry, the president's office rushed to cancel the deal.