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Security Council members voice 'grave concern' over plight of Afghans

Security Council members voice 'grave concern' over plight of Afghans

Amb. Richard Ryan addressing the press
Expressing "grave concern" about the current humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, members of the Security Council today emphasized the need for the relief effort in the country.

"Council members stressed the need for all States to cooperate with UN agencies and to help create the conditions for humanitarian agencies to operate effectively," Council President Ambassador Richard Ryan of Ireland told reporters. "They expressed concern about the plight of vulnerable women and children, especially before the onset of winter."

Commending the work of humanitarian staff in Afghanistan, the Council members "noted and joined in the expressions of great regret by the United States and the United Kingdom at the deaths of four Afghan NGO personnel working on UN land mine programmes," referring to the security guards killed when an office of the Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC) was destroyed last night.

Council members called on the Taliban "to desist immediately from threatening the safety and security of aid workers, and to cease immediately the obstruction of aid destined for the Afghan people," said Ambassador Ryan.

The members reiterated the importance of ensuring the safety and security of UN personnel at all times and expressed concern about the deliberate attacks on UN offices in Quetta, Pakistan.

The Council members welcomed the cooperation of Iran, Pakistan and other States in the region in working with the UN to respond to the crisis, and called on neighbouring States "to enable essential cross-border deliveries." In addition, Ambassador Ryan said, the members stressed that the international community must respond to the needs of host countries.

Ambassador Ryan's statement followed a closed-door meeting of the Council, which was briefed on the humanitarian situation in and around Afghanistan by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kenzo Oshima. Also participating were Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Assistant Secretary-General Danilo Turk.