I thank our briefers for their statements. Once again, they have confirmed the bleak picture of the situation in Afghanistan. The discrimination against women and girls, the collapse of the economy, and the lack of liquidity, not to mention the continued terrorist attacks, extreme weather events, and global commodity price spikes and aid shortages have created a perfect storm in Afghanistan. We are hearing from OCHA that humanitarian agencies are already being forced to provide fewer rounds of assistance than originally planned. And with the limited aid available, there are concerns that the ongoing harassment and intimidation of female humanitarian staff will mean that women and girls – who are among the hardest to reach – are at danger of being completely left behind.
To say that the current situation is unsustainable and will lead to further suffering and instability is an understatement. In order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, the Afghan economy must be revitalized. In this respect, the UAE welcomed the announcement made by the United States on the establishment of the Afghan Fund, which will manage $3.5 billion of Afghan central bank reserves to benefit the people of Afghanistan. This is a step in the right direction. Further steps must be taken to ease financial transactions and reactivate banking services to increase liquidity in the Afghan economy. As Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths highlighted to this Council last month, international financial institutions and others must step up efforts to mitigate against banks’ excessive de-risking to keep the economy running. We expect the arrangements that will be worked out regarding the operation of the Afghan Fund should also help in this respect.
For its part, the UAE’s own actions have sought to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Afghanistan. For example, the UAE and the International Committee of the Red Cross have recently signed a grant memorandum worth $4 million to cover the operational and administrative expenses of hospitals in Afghanistan. This partnership will cover the payment of personnel wages and operating expenses, such as medical supplies, electricity, and fuel.
We stress that revitalizing the economy will be impossible if half the population is excluded from Afghanistan’s social and economic life. According to UNICEF, and as some Council Members have noted, depriving girls of secondary education has translated to a loss of at least $500 million for the Afghan economy in the last 12 months. This demonstrates just how closely women’s inclusion is intertwined with the economy’s performance and development more broadly.
We regret that the Council was not able to come to an agreement to issue a statement earlier this month on girls’ education in Afghanistan and other challenges facing the country. The situation of women and girls, economic recovery, and security concerns are all challenges that threaten peace and security. This Council must be ready to tackle them in parallel – with the assistance of UNAMA. This Council should focus on our shared objective to help the people of Afghanistan, and it should strive to avoid the pitfalls of creating false dichotomies on the priorities related to this file.
We also need to stress that it is not just the Security Council that wants Afghan girls to be educated. It is what Afghan families want for their girls. It is what girls want for themselves. Afghan people are doing everything they can to see their girls back in school, and the de facto authorities must listen and respond.
This takes me to my final and related point on security. One of the observations from the Secretary General’s latest report is the emergence of new anti-Taliban groups and an increase in related anti-Taliban security incidents. The Taliban’s method of governance and its policy-setting, particularly its issuance of edicts without taking due account of the interests and wishes of the Afghan people, will further fuel discontent in the mid to long-term. If Afghan men and women are not heard by those who govern, lasting peace in the country will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
In light of the latest security challenges, it becomes even more critical for the Council insist on its expectations, articulated in relevant resolutions, with regard to an inclusive government and the full participation of women. Such governance must be able to impose security on all territories in Afghanistan and prevent it from becoming a safe haven for terrorists, as this constitutes a threat to regional and international peace and security. We reaffirm the need to keep constructive lines of communication open with the Taliban, because closing these channels will not achieve the desired results in the areas where the international community hopes to see progress.
The UAE will remain steadfast in its support to the Afghan people and will continue to constructively engage in this Council as well as through regional arrangements to improve the situation in Afghanistan.
Source: Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations