Guterres said that the meeting was not about recognising the Taliban regime and as for meeting with them, he said that this “is not the right moment to do so”…writes Arul Louis
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that the international community is concerned about the presence of terrorists in Afghanistan, which has repercussions for the region and beyond.
After a meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan that he convened in Doha, Guterres said that the participants were worried about the stability of that country and expressed serious concerns about “the persistent presence of terrorist organisations — a risk for the country, the region, and further afield”.
Drug trafficking is another area of serious concern about Afghanistan, he said.
India was one of the 21 countries as well as the European Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that participated in the meeting.
Guterres said that the meeting was not about recognising the Taliban regime and as for meeting with them, he said that this “is not the right moment to do so”.
The meeting was “about developing a common international approach” to Afghanistan and the “participants agreed on the need for not only a strategy of engagement that allows for the stabilisation of Afghanistan, but also allows for addressing important concerns”, he said.
He added, “While different countries placed different priorities on these concerns, according to their own situation, there is a general recognition that they are intertwined.”
Guterres also condemned the “grave violation of human rights” under the Taliban, in particular, the restrictions on women.
“Let me be crystal clear: We will never be silent in the face of unprecedented, systemic attacks on women and girls’ rights,” he declared.
Guterres described the situation in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan as “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today” with six million Afghans “one step away from famine-like conditions”, while 28 million “will need humanitarian assistance this year to survive”.
There was a serious shortfall in the $4.6 billion appeal for the Humanitarian Response Plan, having received only $294 million, he said.
The restrictions on women working outside their homes are impacting the humanitarian operation of the UN because women Afghan employees of the UN are being prevented from providing relief, Guterres said.
In protest, the UN asked all its employees — about 2,700 Afghan men and 600 international workers, including 200 women who are exempt from the ban — to stay home till the end of this week.
In a rare show of immunity, the UN Security Council last week demanded that the Taliban “swiftly reverse” the restrictions placed on them.