Security Council urges Taliban to provide safe passage out of Afghanistan

30 August 2021

The UN Security Council passed a resolution on Monday that calls for the Taliban to facilitate safe passage for people wanting to leave Afghanistan, allow humanitarians to access the country, and uphold human rights, including for women and children.

Thirteen of the 15 ambassadors voted in favour of the resolution, which further demands that Afghanistan not be used as a shelter for terrorism.

Permanent members China and Russia abstained.

Airport attack condemned

Countries condemned in the strongest terms the deadly blasts at Kabul airport on Thursday, which killed more than 150 people and injured upwards of 200 more.  The terrorist group Islamic State in Khorosan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility.

The attack targeted people fleeing Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover two weeks ago, and international forces assisting the evacuations.

Thousands of Afghans have been trying to escape from the country ahead of the full withdrawal of the United States by its self-imposed Tuesday deadline.

 

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

USA: Live up to commitment

The resolution was tabled by the United States, alongside fellow permanent Council members France and the United Kingdom.

“The Security Council expects the Taliban to live up to its commitment to facilitate safe passage for Afghans and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan, whether it’s today, tomorrow, or after August 31,” said US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

“Consistent with the right to leave any country, including one’s own, everybody must be allowed to safely leave Afghanistan, for whatever reason, whenever they want, by air or by land. This is of the utmost importance to us.”

Since July, the USA has evacuated more than 122,000 Americans, foreign nationals and at-risk Afghan citizens, she reported.  Ms. Thomas-Greenfield added that the resolution also reflects the Council’s "crystal clear" commitment to assisting those who remain in Afghanistan.

“It underscores that all parties need to facilitate humanitarian assistance, and that humanitarian actors be given full safe and unhindered access to continue service delivery to those in need,” she said.

France: Reach all in need

The resolution takes note of a Taliban statement this week which allows Afghans to leave the country at any time. Nathalie Estival-Broadhurst, Deputy Permanent Representative of France, called for that commitment to be upheld.

Nathalie Estival-Broadhurst, Deputy Permanent Representative of France addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Nathalie Estival-Broadhurst, Deputy Permanent Representative of France addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

“This resolution calls on everyone to make all efforts to secure the airport and the surrounding area.,” she said, speaking through an interpreter.

“And to create this safe passage and protection is a sine qua non condition to ensure that threatened Afghans who wish to leave can do so safely, but also to ensure that humanitarian assistance can reach all of those who need it through the airport, of course, but also over land borders.”

UK: Protect rights gains

On the issue of human rights, UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward emphasized the need to protect gains made over the past two decades, stressing that the rights of women, children and minorities must be safeguarded.

Ambassador Barbara Woodward of the United Kingdom addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Ambassador Barbara Woodward of the United Kingdom addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

She described the resolution as an important step towards a unified international response to the situation in Afghanistan.  

“We will continue to build on this to ensure the Council holds the Taliban accountable on its commitments. The Taliban will be judged by the international community on the basis of their actions on the ground, not their words,” she stated.

Russia: Concerns not included

In explaining his vote, Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Russia was forced to abstain because certain “principled concerns” were not reflected in the draft text, which was circulated on Friday.

Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia of the Russian Federation addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia of the Russian Federation addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

“Firstly, despite the fact that the resolution was proposed against the backdrop of a terrible terrorist attack, the authors categorically refused to refer to a passage on the fight against terrorism containing internationally recognized terrorist organizations ISIL and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

“We see this as a reluctance to acknowledge the obvious, and a desire to divide terrorists into ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’; and that is to say, to downplay the terrorist threat coming from these groups.”

China: Reflection and correction

Ambassador Geng Shuang of China stated that given the fragile situation on the ground, and the uncertainties, any Council action should help ease tensions, and not intensify them.

Ambassador Geng Shuang of China addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Ambassador Geng Shuang of China addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

“The recent chaos in Afghanistan is directly related to the hasty and disorderly withdrawal of foreign troops,” he said.  “We hope that relevant countries will realize the fact that withdrawal is not the end of responsibility, but the beginning of reflection and correction.” 

 

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