The situation in Afghanistan - Security Council, 8834th Meeting

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16-Aug-2021 01:08:47
Secretary-General urges Security Council to ‘stand as one’, ensure human rights respected in Afghanistan, as delegates call for protection of civilians.

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Permanent Representative Warns Kabul Residents Living in ‘Absolute Fear’, amid Reported Door-to-Door Searches, Targeted Killings

In an emergency Security Council meeting on Afghanistan following the Taliban’s seizure of the capital city, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today sent a firm message that the world body will not abandon the people of the war-torn country, and its personnel will stay and continue to deliver critical services.

“The world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead”, he said, urging all parties, especially the Taliban, to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian needs are met.

Pointing to a huge influx of internally displaced persons into Kabul, the capital, from provinces around the country, he urged all countries to receive Afghan refugees and refrain from any deportations. “Now is the time to stand as one,” he said, calling on the international community to use all available tools to uphold human rights in Afghanistan.

Voicing concern over accounts of mounting violations against women and girls who fear a return to “the darkest days”, and stressing that their hard-won rights are protected, he said the international community must also unite to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used as a platform or haven for terrorist organizations.

Noting that the humanitarian crisis affects 18 million people — half of the population — he said United Nations personnel will stay and deliver support to them in their hour of need. “We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan,” he declared.

Afghanistan’s representative, taking the floor on behalf of millions of people whose fate hangs in the balance, warned against gruesome images of mass executions carried out by the Taliban in Kandahar and other large cities. “We cannot allow this to happen in Kabul,” the last refuge for Afghans fleeing violence and revenge attacks, he said. “Kabul residents are living in absolute fear now,” he added, citing reports of door-to-door searches, targeted killings and looting in the capital.

He implored the Council and the Secretary-General to use “every means” at their disposal to call for an immediate cessation of violence and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. They should also call for the establishment of a representative transitional Government that includes all ethnic groups and women’s representatives, while preserving the gains made over the last 20 years, especially for women and girls, he said.

Moreover, the Council and the Secretary-General should stress that the United Nations will not recognize any Government that gains power through force and state unequivocally that the United Nations does not recognize the restoration of an Islamic emirate, as reaffirmed in past Council statements. International guarantees should be established for the implementation of future political agreements, he demanded.

In the ensuing debate, Council members urged the Taliban to end the violence, save civilian lives and allow humanitarian workers safe and unhindered access to people in dire need.

Indeed, how the Taliban conduct themselves will matter “a great deal” in how willing the international community will be to support a new Afghan Government in which the Taliban participate, Norway’s representative stressed. His delegation has taken “careful note” of the group’s assurances that the safety of all Afghans, diplomats and humanitarian workers will be guaranteed, and that women and girls will have access to work and education.

The United States, its representative said, will respond with a “swift and strong” military action to any attempt that places its mission and personnel in Kabul at risk. She insisted that all Afghan nationals and international citizens who wish to leave the country be allowed to do so safely. “The United States promises to be generous in resettling Afghans in our own country,” she assured, expressing concern that some 500 tons of aid are now being held up at Taliban-controlled border crossings.

The Russian Federation’s representative emphasized that his country will interact with the Taliban, irrespective of the evolving situation, and its embassy in Kabul is operating normally. Underscoring that the sharp turn of events took everyone by surprise — including those who made pronouncements about the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces — he said the main players and wider international community must pool their efforts to help the country achieve national reconciliation. He pointed to the important role played by his own country, China and Pakistan, as well as to the potential contribution of Iran.

Some Council members expressed concern that Afghanistan could again become a hotbed for terrorists, with India’s representative, Council President for August, stressing in his national capacity that the situation is of particular concern to his country as a neighbouring State. There must be zero tolerance for terrorism, he warned.

Mexico’s representative said that despite international efforts over the years, the door is open once again to make Afghanistan a haven for terrorists. Any future scenario must ensure that this does not happen. For its part, the Council must insist that the use of force is unacceptable, and that those countries with direct contacts with the Taliban call for the swift resumption of constructive negotiations.

Along the same line, China’s representative called on the Taliban to make “a clean break” with terrorist groups and to prevent them from taking advantage of the current chaos.

Also speaking today were representatives of Estonia, France, United Kingdom, Kenya (also for Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Ireland and Viet Nam.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:12 a.m.

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