Kenya condemns terrorist attacks against civilians in Afghanistan

Kenya has condemned terrorist attacks against civilians that continue to undermine peace efforts in Afghanistan, including the recent deadly attack by Islamic State in Khorasan Provence in Herat.

Speaking 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 demand, in a unified voice, that the Taliban commits to fighting terrorism.

He said the international community should ensure that Afghanistan is not a haven from which terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and Al Qaeda perpetrate their heinous acts of terror not only in Afghanistan, but also within the region and beyond.

He also voiced deep concern over the deteriorating economy and recent disappearance of two Afghan women activists, calling on the Taliban to investigate, locate and return the women and to guarantee the inalienable right of Afghan women to positively contribute to their country’s development.

The ambassador said authorities should also prioritize the elimination of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and other gendered harms against Afghan women, girls and children, as well as reverse any actions intended to restrict women’s free movement.

At the same time, Kenya commended 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 by the UN Team in Afghanistan of its One-UN Transitional Engagement Framework to assist Afghans in 2022.

Speaking in the same briefing, Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres said that, six months after the Taliban’s takeover, “Afghanistan is hanging by a thread.”

“Afghans are now in the grips of a brutal winter, many huddling in makeshift tents under plastic sheets.  Ambulances and hospital power generators are running dry because of skyrocketing fuel prices, while civilians are suffering from COVID-19 alongside preventable diseases such as measles and polio.  Education and social services are on the brink of collapse and millions of children — especially girls — are out of school.  Over half of all Afghans also face extreme hunger as the country experiences its worst drought in two decades, pushing nine million people closer to famine,” he said.

“The Afghan economy is enduring a bitter winter of its own,” he continued, citing the danger that the currency could go into freefall and Afghanistan could lose 30 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) within the year.  As the economy spirals downward, human rights are also losing ground, with women and girls once again shut out of offices and classrooms, and years of steady progress lost in the blink of an eye.  Expressing deep concern about reports of arbitrary arrests and abductions of women activists, and strongly appealing for their release, he added that terrorism remains a constant threat.

Recalling his recently launched $4.4 billion humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan — the largest in the United Nations history for a single country — he said it aims to ramp up life‑saving support around health, shelter, nutrition, protection and emergency education, 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 at a scaled-up capacity to reach even more people and prevent food, health and education systems from collapsing.

“At this moment, we need the global community — and this Council — to put their hands on the wheel of progress, provide resources and prevent Afghanistan from spiralling any further,” he said.

Against that backdrop, he called for a suspension of the rules and conditions that constrain not only Afghanistan’s economy, but the United Nations life‑saving operations.

“International funding must be allowed to pay the salaries of public-sector workers, from surgeons and nurses to teachers, sanitation workers and electricians.”

Welcoming the Council’s adoption in late 2021 of a humanitarian exemption to the United Nations sanctions regime, he called for the issuance of general licenses covering transactions necessary to all humanitarian activities.  Member States should also support the “One UN” Transitional Engagement Framework for Afghanistan, being launched today, which aims to extend and accelerate humanitarian and development support, while strengthening essential services.

He called on the global community to jump-start Afghanistan’s economy through increased liquidity, notably by finding ways to free up frozen currency reserves and re-engage Afghanistan’s Central Bank.

Recalling that the World Bank’s reconstruction trust fund for Afghanistan transferred $280 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in December 2021, he called for the remaining $1.2 billion to be urgently freed up to help Afghans survive the winter.

“Without action, lives will be lost, and despair and extremism will grow,” he emphasized, warning that 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 its people and demonstrate a real commitment to be a part of the global community,” he stressed, noting that the window for trust-building is open, but trust must be earned.  Unfettered humanitarian access to all regions of the country is vital, as is promoting security and fighting terrorism, and an inclusive Government must be built in which all Afghans feel represented.

He urged the Taliban leadership to recognize and protect the fundamental human rights that every person shares, 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.

  

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