Security Council: Earthquake adds to other tragic emergencies in Afghanistan, UN says

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“Yesterday was yet another tragic reminder of the myriad dangers facing the Afghan people at this time,” said Ramiz Alakbarov.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, humanitarian actors mobilized an immediate response alongside their counterparts in the de facto authorities, explained the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and Deputy Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in the UN Security Council.

Mr. Alakbarov, however, focused his presentation on the “other emergencies” facing the Afghan population. Notably “the human rights situation, the economic crisis, the current humanitarian emergency and finally, the need for continued engagement with the de facto authorities”.

Women “collectively excluded from society”

The Resident Coordinator notably described a precarious human rights situation despite a general amnesty measure and repeated promises by the de facto authorities to respect it: “UNAMA continues to receive credible allegations of killings, ill-treatment and other violations targeting individuals associated with the former Afghan government, as well as credible allegations of violations committed by the de facto authorities against individuals accused of being affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant-Khorassan ( ISIL-K),” he explained.

Mr. Alakbarov urged the de facto authorities to do more to prevent these violations and bring their perpetrators to justice.

Alakbarov also criticized the country’s new leadership for increasingly restricting the exercise of fundamental human rights, in particular the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls, by limiting their participation in social, political and economic life. .

“These are in particular the banning of secondary education for girls and the decision to impose the wearing of the veil on women”, he denounced, pointing out the immense cost of these policies on the Afghan economy. “Women are collectively excluded from society in a way unparalleled anywhere in the world,” he said, while assuring the Council that UNAMA would remain “a clear and visible voice to safeguard the rights of the Afghan people, especially those of women and girls”.

Echoing these remarks, the Australian journalist of Afghan origin Yalda Hakim took advantage of the platform offered by the Council to emphasize the deprivation of freedoms suffered by Afghan women, and in the first place, on the prohibition made “for 279 days” to millions of Afghan girls to go to school. “Education is not a privilege, it is a fundamental human right, which continues to be denied to Afghan girls,” she said.

The poverty rate could reach 97% by the end of 2022

The poverty rate could reach 97% by the end of 2022. The Afghan economy has contracted by 30-40% since August 2021 and unemployment could reach 40% this year, against 13% in 2021. 82% of households are now in debt.

“If the economy is unable to recover and grow significantly and sustainably, the Afghan people will face repeated humanitarian crises, which could trigger mass migration and create conditions conducive to radicalization and to a new armed conflict,” Mr. Alakbarov warned.

Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, called for addressing the economic and banking paralysis that continues to block the lives of women, men and children.

The Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) regretted that the banking system blocks money transfers to the country for the sake of risk reduction: almost half of the organizations that responded to a monitoring survey of the OCHA reported difficulty transferring funds to Afghanistan, up from 87% in October last year.

More ‘interference’ by de facto authorities in humanitarian aid

Another problem according to Mr. Griffiths: national and local authorities are increasingly seeking to “play a role” in the selection of beneficiaries and the delivery of aid, putting forward “priority lists”. The de facto authorities are asking for more data and information regarding budgets, employment contracts, and “NGOs face persistent difficulties when trying to hire women in certain positions”.

He saw more interference today than in previous months, adding that most difficulties were however resolved through dialogue with the relevant de facto authorities. “However, for every problem solved, another similar problem appears, sometimes in the same place with the same services”, he regretted, speaking of “frustration of humanitarian organizations, communities and local authorities”.

Afghanistan remains very vulnerable to climate change and future geopolitical shocks, added Mr. Alakbarov, who called as a priority to revive the agricultural economy and find a substitute crop to replace that of the poppy.

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