UN hopes humanitarian assistance continues in Afghanistan

By Monitoring Desk
Tuesday – August 17, 2021
NEW YORK (United States): Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Munir Akram said, on Monday, the “ideal” time to end the Afghan conflict through negotiations might have been when the United States (US) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) troops were at their maximum military strength and added that a continuation of foreign military presence for a longer duration now, could not have yielded any positive outcome.

According to press releases, he was speaking to reporters outside the UN Security Council (UNSC), and said that the endorsement by the US president Joe Biden’s administration of the previous US administration’s decision of troop withdrawal is indeed a logical conclusion to this conflict.

The Pakistani diplomat said his government is making active efforts to promote an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan and the leadership of a number of political parties and groups in Afghanistan, representing all the multi-ethnic groups apart from the Pashtuns, are present in Islamabad and have met with foreign minister (FM) Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Pakistani leadership.

He said these groups have promised to engage continuously with the Taliban and to try to evolve an inclusive Afghan government.

Pakistan’s envoy to the UN Akram said that our immediate priority should be aimed at the maintenance of law and order and safety and security of all Afghan civilians, especially women and children.

He continued that the fundamental human rights must be upheld, all civilian property and infrastructure must be protected and that there must be complete respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

Pakistan’s envoy to the UN Akram noted that the Taliban statements have said that they will, that they accept girl’s education, women’s working, under an Islamic system, and as you know, in Islam women have equal rights, and we hope that those rights will be respected in any new formation in Afghanistan.

The ambassador told reporters that the UNSC, under the Indian presidency, did not invite Pakistan to participate in Monday’s council meeting on Afghanistan.

Separately, speaking to reporters, on Monday, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarricw said, “Assessments were ongoing yesterday morning with inter-agency teams deployed around Kabul to assess humanitarian needs.”

He continued, “Despite immense challenges, humanitarian organisations — both the UN and non government organisation (NGOs) — in Afghanistan are committed to delivering aid and services to millions of people in need while adhering to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.”

UN spokesperson Dujarric also said, “The $1.3 billion humanitarian response plan for Afghanistan remains just 38 percent funded, leaving an almost $800 million shortfall.”

Separately, the UN presence in Afghanistan “will adapt to the security situation,” UN secretary-general (UNSG) Antonio Guterres said, on Monday, in a briefing to an emergency session of the UNSC.

“But above all, we will stay and deliver in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need,” UNSG Guterres said.

As desperate Afghans were trying to escape the Taliban and board planes, during chaotic scenes at Kabul airport, on Monday, UNSG Guterres called for international unity on Afghanistan.

He appealed for the UNSC to stand as one, and ensure that human rights are upheld, humanitarian aid continues, and that the country does not again become a platform for terrorism.

The UNSG noted that the international community is following the developments in Afghanistan “with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead.”

After seizing large swaths of territory in recent months, the Taliban, on Sunday, took control of the capital, Kabul, home to some 6 million people.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country, according to media reports, and desperate residents have been scrambling to the airport to get flights out.

“At this grave hour, I urge all parties, especially the Taliban, to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and to ensure that humanitarian needs can be met,” UNSG Guterres said.

The UN chief called for the international community to uphold human rights, and voiced particular concern over mounting violations against women and girls.

“It is essential that the hard-won rights of Afghan women and girls are protected,” he stressed.

Separately, US ambassador at the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, reiterated the statement by the US president “that any action that put US personnel or our mission at risk will be met with a swift and strong military response.”

She also said that the US “promises to be generous, and resettling Afghans in our own country, and I’m heartened by the pledges we’ve seen from other nations to do the same. We need to all do more, and the time to step up is now.”