Delivered by H.E. Amiera Alhefeiti, Deputy Permanent Representative
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At the outset, we join other speakers in expressing our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the devastating earthquake that struck southeast Afghanistan yesterday, and we wish a speedy recovery for the injured. The UAE always stands ready to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, including by starting to facilitate aid to help them in this disaster.
I thank Mr. Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and Mr. Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, for their comprehensive briefings. We also listened carefully to the disturbing accounts shared by Ms. Yalda Royan and Ms. Yalda Hakim about the very difficult conditions faced by Afghans, especially women and girls.
I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to SRSG Lyons for her vital efforts and past stewardship of UNAMA.
The situation in Afghanistan is alarming and frustrating. We are particularly discouraged by the lack of progress in the areas highlighted by the Council in resolution 2596 on Afghanistan – including the establishment on an inclusive government, combatting terrorism, and upholding human rights, especially for women to participate in the workforce and girls to receive education, as well as their participation in all aspects of life. These are not simply expectations of the international community. They are the fundamental building blocks to economic growth, improved public health, empowerment of women, and ultimately a stable and peaceful Afghanistan.
I would like to focus my statement today on four important points.
First, it is imperative that we keep adequate attention on the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. While we may have managed to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe this past winter, poverty and hunger continue to rise – as the Secretary General’s latest report on Afghanistan underlines. Sadly, Afghanistan is a case study of how rising food, fertilizer and gas prices are driving millions more into food insecurity. The warning given by the head of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, at the end of March has already become a reality in Afghanistan: food is taken from the hungry to give to the starving. This situation is further exacerbated by the latest earthquake and its devastating impact on the people from the areas it hit.
The UAE welcomed the adoption of Council resolution 2615, which established a humanitarian exemption to the 1988 sanctions regime, as an important step to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan. The We should learn from the Afghanistan example and consider whether a similar approach may be appropriate for other sanctions regimes, on a case-by-case basis. We reiterate that the potential humanitarian consequences of sanctions should systematically be considered in the design of each and every sanction regime.
Furthermore, the UAE encourages all donors to use all reasonable efforts to ensure that individuals on the 1988 sanctions list or with links to terrorists are not able to accrue benefits from any assistance intended for the people of Afghanistan.
Second, we reiterate that the access of women and girls to education and all aspects of public life is not optional. Afghanistan’s chances of recovery are doomed if half of its population continues to be marginalized. This Council must continue to demand that the Taliban’s decision to exclude girls from secondary education be reversed and that women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in society is reinstated.
Third, UNAMA must continue to implement its comprehensive mandate to engage with the Taliban through structured dialogue, while conveying the messages of the international community. We encourage UNAMA to continue its active engagement with the Taliban vis-à-vis women’s empowerment and girls’ education, as well as all other aspects of its mandate.
Finally, the security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile. The latest report of the Monitoring Team of the 1988 Sanctions committee indicates that the country witnessed multiple terrorist attacks over the past months and that some terrorist groups, such as ISIL-K, are strengthening their capacities and financial resources. This situation further exacerbates current challenges in the country in terms of maintaining security and controlling the activities of these terrorist groups, as we have witnessed in the attacks that took place this month, such as the recent attack on a temple in Kabul and the explosion that targeted a crowded market in Nangarhar.
As the Secretary-General’s latest report underlines, the Taliban needs to engage in a serious and meaningful counter-terrorism dialogue with the international community. This Council must also send a unified message to the Taliban that Afghanistan cannot be a safe haven for terrorists.
In conclusion, I want to recall what Ms. Lyons has told this Council many times before: the road ahead after August 2021 will not be easy. Despite the multiple roadblocks that we have hit since then, now is the time to redouble our efforts, scale up support to Afghans and keep up pressure on the Taliban. We cannot abandon Afghan people during this difficult period.
I thank you, Mr. President.