Check against delivery.

I thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Ms. Deborah Lyons and Ms. Mariam Safi for their valuable insights.

Our meeting today is taking place at a critical period for Afghanistan as the Council considers how the UN can best serve the people of Afghanistan. The UN’s presence is needed now more than ever to tackle Afghanistan’s multifaceted crises.

The UAE therefore supports a robust mandate for UNAMA, one that is calibrated to align with the realities on the ground. The recommendations of the Secretary-General contained in his latest report are sensible and offer a good starting point for our deliberations.

As such, I would like to refer to the following points:

First, the UAE believes that moving forward, the coordination of donor activities should remain a cornerstone of UNAMA’s activities. We also support the Secretary-General’s proposal that UNAMA play a role to minimise the risk of aid diversion in Afghanistan. This should be well coordinated with the relevant agencies through their own risk management work.

Providing financial contributions to support the Afghan economy remains an urgent necessity, and we, therefore, echo the calls made by the Secretary-General for allowing international funding to pay for the salaries of civil servants. In this regard, we recognize the recent steps made and are also encouraged by the OIC’s pledge to set up a humanitarian trust fund, as well as the launching a program for food security in Afghanistan. The UAE will continue to work with its partners to support humanitarian activities, including with the OIC and the Islamic Development Bank.

Second, as a vocal supporter of women and girls’ protection and empowerment in Afghanistan, we believe that UNAMA’s mandate should reflect the situation of women and girls. Their exclusion from education, public life, and the work force in Afghanistan hinders prospects for peace and security as well as economic prosperity in the country. The UNDP has recently estimated that restrictions on women’s participation in the workplace, for example, could cost the Afghan economy up to 1 billion US dollars. This statistic demonstrates that women’s equal and meaningful inclusion is a necessity.

We reiterate that religion cannot be used to justify discrimination against women. We welcome UNAMA’s efforts to ensure that engagement in Afghanistan is informed by the cultural and religious context, including by working with the OIC. The UAE stands ready to offer its assistance in this respect.

Third, the UN can play a critical role in facilitating political dialogue with all relevant parties, including the Taliban. This is necessary to encourage them to heed the calls of the international community, to improve governance, and to effectively deliver vital services to the Afghan people.

Lastly, the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan and the broader region remains a top concern. Our concerns were confirmed by the latest report of the Da’esh and Al Qaida Sanctions Monitoring Team, which indicated that terrorist groups may enjoy greater freedom in Afghanistan now than at any time. The Taliban must implement the necessary measures to combat terrorism in Afghanistan under international law, including by severing ties with all terrorist groups and preventing the use of Afghanistan territory as a safe haven for terrorism.

As part of our presidency pledge to highlight the two-year anniversary of the pandemic, we would also like to draw attention to the fact that 10% of the population in Afghanistan has been vaccinated. We believe that bundling COVID-19 vaccination with other essential services is likely one of the most effective response measures, alongside international investment in the primary healthcare system. The tragic recent killing of 8 polio health workers also underscores the need for protection of humanitarian workers to achieve vaccine equity.

In conclusion, the UAE is committed to contribute constructively to the Council’s deliberations on the UNAMA mandate, as well as to achieving stability and security in Afghanistan.

Thank you.