Pakistan urges generous response as UN launches $3.6bn appeal for Afghanistan

Published January 28, 2022
Pakistan’s UN ambassador Munir Akram addresses the UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan on Thursday. — PID
Pakistan’s UN ambassador Munir Akram addresses the UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan on Thursday. — PID

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan urged the international community on Thursday to respond ‘positively and generously’ to a UN appeal for $3.6 billion for a transitional engagement with Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, the UN team in Afghanistan launched the UN Transitional Engagement Framework (TEF) for the country, which is a $3.6 billion plan to save lives and sustain health, education and other essential services throughout 2022.

“We hope and trust that the international community will respond positively and generously to the UN humanitarian and refugee response appeals,” said Pakistan’s UN ambassador Munir Akram.

Secretary-General Antó­nio Guterres launched two appeals for Afghanistan this month, first on Jan 11, seeking $ 5 billion in emergency support and then a $3.6 billion appeal announced on Wednesday.

“Daily life has become a frozen hell for the people of Afghanistan,” said the UN chief while launching his second appeal.

“As a matter of moral responsibility — and regional and global security and prosperity — we cannot abandon them,” he said.

“They need peace. They need hope. They need help. And they need it now.”

In a statement during the UN Security Council briefing on the second appeal, Ambassador Akram warned that millions of Afghan men, women and children were struggling to avoid death from hunger in a brutal winter. This, he said, was the “cumulative impact of conflict, drought, external dependency and sequestered assets”.

“Without humanitarian ass­i­stance, chaos and renewed conflict could return to Afghanistan with an exodus of refugees, and an escalation of a terrorist threat,” he said.

The Secretary-General too reminded the Council that “freezing temperatures and frozen assets” were a “lethal combination” and that Afghanistan was still “hanging by a thread” six months after the Taliban takeover.

The UN chief said Afghanistan has long been unfairly used as a platform for political agendas, geopolitical advantage, ideological dominance, brutal conflicts and terrorism.

“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 spiraling any further.”

Special Representative Deborah Lyons, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) which launched the second appeal, told the council that this investment could reverse the steady increase in poverty, while ensuring critical donor funds were not misused.

She hoped the Taliban would demonstrate commitment to a “pathway” towards future engagement with the international community as it would help remove the donors’ reluctance.

“By ‘pathway’ I mean a series of clear, mutually understood commitments, with human rights at the forefront, which would result in Afghanistan rejoining the community of nations,” she said.

Ms Lyons urged Taliban rulers to seek “domestic legitimacy that aligns with Afghanistan’s modern history and the aspirations of its population, its multi-ethnic character, and its traditional Islamic identity”.

The UN chief too joined his Afghan representative in asking the Taliban to demonstrate real commitment to be part of the international community.

“The window for trust-building is open. But this trust must be earned,” he said.

Ambassador Akram noted that the Security Council also listened to two Afghan citizens and said that this “debate would have been more interactive and more productive if we were also able to listen to a representative from the interim government”.

“While there was never any doubt that the targeted sanctions against certain individuals and entities in Afghanistan should not prevent humanitarian, economic, or developmental assistance to Afghanistan,” the recent adoption of a UN Security Council resolution has reaffirmed and clarified this understanding, he said.

“Pakistan believes that all actors can now undertake their actions in Afghanistan without fear of arbitrary censure or restraints,” the Pakistani envoy said.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2022

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