Kenya has condemned terrorist attacks on civilians that continue to undermine peace efforts in Afghanistan, including the recent deadly Islamic State attack in the Provence of Khorasan in Herat.
Speaking on Wednesday during the UN Security Council briefing on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Kenya’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations – New York, Ambassador Micheal Kiboino called on the international community to join in demanding that that the The Taliban are committed to fighting terrorism.
He said the international community should ensure that Afghanistan is not a haven from which terrorist groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda launch their heinous terrorist attacks not only in Afghanistan but also in the region and beyond.
He also expressed his deep concern over the deteriorating economy and the recent disappearance of two Afghan women activists, and called on the Taliban to investigate, locate and bring back the women and to guarantee Afghan women’s inalienable right to make a positive contribution to their development country to afford.
The ambassador said authorities should also prioritize eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and other gender-based harm against Afghan women, girls and children, and reverse all measures aimed at restricting women’s free movement.
At the same time, Kenya praised UNAMA, UNDP and other United Nations agencies for their versatility and ability to operate in an increasingly complex and challenging environment.
Amb. Kiboino also welcomed the launch of the UN Team in Afghanistan of its One-UN Transitional Engagement Framework in support of Afghans in 2022.
In the same briefing, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that six months after the Taliban takeover, “Afghanistan is hanging by a thread”.
“Afghans are now in the grip of a brutal winter, many huddled in makeshift tents under plastic sheeting. Ambulances and hospital power generators are left empty-handed due to skyrocketing fuel prices, while civilians suffer from COVID-19 alongside preventable diseases like measles and polio. Education and social services are on the brink of collapse and millions of children – especially girls – are out of school. More than half of all Afghans are also facing extreme hunger as the country experiences its worst drought in two decades, putting nine million people closer to starvation,” he said.
“Afghan economy is going through its own bitter winter,” he continued, citing the risk that the currency could go into free fall and Afghanistan could lose 30 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) within the year. As the economy spirals downward, so do human rights, as women and girls are once again locked out of offices and classrooms, and years of steady progress are lost in the blink of an eye. He expressed his deep concern at reports of arbitrary arrests and kidnappings of activists and urged their release. He added that terrorism remains a constant threat.
Recalling his recently launched $4.4 billion humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan – the largest in UN history for a single country – he said it aims to provide life-saving assistance in the areas of health, to bolster shelter, nutrition, shelter and emergency training, while also providing cash transfers to help families make ends meet.
In 2021, the organization and its partners reached 18 million people across Afghanistan, and in 2022 it is working with an expanded capacity to reach even more people and prevent the collapse of food, health and education systems.
“Right now, we need the world community – and this Council – to take the wheel of progress, allocate resources and prevent Afghanistan from spiraling further,” he said.
Against this backdrop, he called for the suspension of rules and conditions that constrain not only Afghanistan’s economy but also the United Nations’ life-saving operations.
“International funds must be allowed to pay the salaries of public sector workers, from surgeons and nurses to teachers, plumbers and electricians.”
He welcomed the Council’s adoption of a humanitarian waiver from the United Nations sanctions regime in late 2021 and called for the issuance of general authorizations for transactions required for all humanitarian activities. Member States should also support the Transitional Framework for United Nations Engagement in Afghanistan, launched today, which aims to scale up and accelerate humanitarian and development assistance while strengthening essential services.
He called on the world community to boost the Afghan economy through increased liquidity, particularly by finding ways to release frozen foreign exchange reserves and reintegrate the Afghan central bank.
He recalled that the World Bank Reconstruction Trust Fund for Afghanistan transferred $280 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) in December 2021, and requested that the remaining $1.2 billion US dollars urgently needed to be released to help Afghans survive the winter.
“Without action, lives will be lost and desperation and extremism will grow,” he said, warning that the economic collapse could lead to a massive exodus of people fleeing the country.
“Now is also the time for the Taliban to expand opportunity and security for their people and demonstrate a genuine commitment to being part of the global community,” he stressed, noting that the window is open for confidence-building, but trust must be earned. Unrestricted humanitarian access to all regions of the country is vital, as is promoting security and fighting terrorism, and building an inclusive government in which all Afghans feel represented.
He called on the Taliban leadership to recognize and protect the basic human rights that every human being shares and in which all people can contribute to the country’s future.
“This must include the rights of women and girls who are once again being denied their rights to education, employment and equal justice,” he stressed.