Countries must unite and act urgently to secure stability in Afghanistan, and a better future for its people, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message on Wednesday to a regional conference of the country’s neighbours, organized by Iran.
Foreign Ministers from Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan participated in the meeting held in Tehran, with their Russian and Chinese counterparts joining by video, according to media reports.
Stability through unity
“Afghanistan is confronting an epic humanitarian crisis and is on the verge of a development catastrophe”, the UN chief told the gathering. He urged countries to speak with one voice.
“We can only achieve more stability with a united approach. Together, let us act with determination – and without delay – to help the people of Afghanistan and to secure a better future for all.”
The Secretary-General outlined four areas for action, which he said are of regional and international concern, starting with humanitarian relief. He reported that the UN is undertaking a “massive” humanitarian operation in the country, despite enormous obstacles.
Revive Afghan economy
“We have been acting with the cooperation of the Taliban, who have progressively granted access to the areas requested and provided security when needed,” he said.
Mr. Guterres thanked neighbouring nations for their assistance with moving aid workers and supplies. He also highlighted the need for continued collaboration on the issue of refugees, saying “international support to hosting countries must match the scale of needs.”
With the Afghan economy on the brink of collapse, the UN chief stressed the need to work together to revive it. “Injecting liquidity into the Afghan economy can be done without violating international laws or compromising principles,” he said.
Continued engagement required
Afghanistan’s people also need an inclusive and representative government, he added, one which respects international humanitarian law and upholds human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Mr. Guterres said he was deeply disturbed by violations of human rights, including the rights of women, children and ethnic minorities, and recent deadly terrorist attacks on religious institutions. He called for ongoing engagement “to help move things in the right direction.”
For his final point, the UN chief stressed that Afghans, and the region, “also need a country that is secure – not one that is a haven for terrorism or a centre for drug trafficking.” This, he said, is vital to peace and stability, both in the region and around the world.