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Developments in Afghanistan causing profound political, security, humanitarian challenges — UN Chief

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By PTI Updated: Sep 17, 2021 8:46 pm
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United Nations, Sep. 17 (PTI): UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday said the troubling developments in Afghanistan were causing “profound political, economic, security and humanitarian challenges”, hoping the international community could deliver in the face of this “rapidly evolving and unpredictable” situation.

You come together at a pivotal time, Guterres said in a video message to the 20th Summit of the Council of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Troubling developments in Afghanistan are causing profound political, economic, security and humanitarian challenges. The situation is rapidly evolving and unpredictable, he said.

The UN chief told the SCO leaders it is clear that the Afghan people want extreme poverty to be eradicated, jobs to become available, health and education services to be restored, and their lives and basic rights and freedoms to be protected.

They want their country free of insecurity and terror. The United Nations is committed to deliver for the Afghan people, Guterres said.

Top UN officials continue to engage with the Taliban in Afghanistan as they focus on ensuring continued humanitarian aid in the country.

UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Deborah Lyons and Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, Department of Safety and Security (DSS) Gilles Michaud met Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani stressing absolute necessity for all UN and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid and conduct work for Afghan people.

UNAMA said in a tweet that the meeting also addressed the requirement of mutual trust in collective efforts to improve the challenging situation in Afghanistan, not least in restarting the economy, ensuring civil servants and health workers are paid, as well as medicines and food reaching those most in need.”

The two UN officials also met Thursday with the Taliban government’s intelligence chief Abdulhaq Wasiq about securing the safety of UN personnel, the threat posed by Islamic State, and the importance of humanitarian assistance reaching those Afghans in need of help.

On the meetings with Haqqani and Wasiq, Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, had told reporters Thursday these are continuing dialogues that we are having with Afghan with the Taliban in Kabul.

These are ongoing dialogues with the Taliban that we’re having in Kabul to ensure that humanitarian aid can continue to be delivered in an independent and impartial manner, also to underscore the need to respect human rights, including, of course, the rights of women and girls, to ensure the safety of UN personnel, to talk about issues of access. It’s an ongoing discussion, he said.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi is now in Pakistan, where he is holding talks with government officials and reviewing the refugee response in Pakistan.

Grandi just concluded a three-day visit to Afghanistan, and during his visit to Kabul, he had meetings with the interim Afghan government, as well as some of the hundreds of UN and NGO (non-governmental organisation) staff that have stayed on the ground to maintain and deliver humanitarian aid.

In his remarks to the SCO Summit, Guterres said the UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths recently travelled to Afghanistan and the UN has launched a Flash Appeal for immediate humanitarian response needs, and convened a High-Level event in Geneva to support this effort.

We look forward to working with all of you to support the Afghan people, he said, adding that across the board, solidarity is needed now more than ever.

Transnational threats such as the climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic demand coordinated and creative solutions, he said, adding that the work of regional organisations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is critical to addressing shared challenges and ensuring an equitable recovery.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, two weeks before the US’ complete troop withdrawal on August 31 after a costly two-decade war. This forced Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country to the UAE.

The Taliban insurgents stormed across Afghanistan and captured all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away.

Thousands of Afghan nationals and foreigners have fled the country to escape the new Taliban regime and to seek asylum in different nations, including the US and many European nations, resulting in total chaos and deaths.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the SCO summit via video link and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar attended the meeting of the eight-member bloc comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

6092
By PTI Updated: Sep 17, 2021 8:46:01 pm