UN chief tells Security Council: Afghanistan ‘hangs by a thread’


UNITED NATIONS, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Afghanistan is “hanging by a thread”, with millions suffering from extreme hunger, education and social services on the brink of collapse and a lack of cash limiting capacity to reach people in need, the UN secretary said. General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Wednesday.

“We must suspend the rules and conditions that restrict not only the economy of Afghanistan, but also our rescue operations. At this time of maximum need, these rules must be seriously reviewed,” António Guterres told the 15 members. advice.

He again called on countries to issue general licenses covering transactions necessary for all humanitarian activities.

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“We must give financial institutions and business partners the legal assurance that they can work with humanitarian operators without fear of breaching sanctions,” said António Guterres.

Some $9.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves remain stuck outside the country and international support for the previous government has dried up since the Taliban took power last August.

“We need to revive the Afghan economy through increased liquidity. We need to pull the economy back from the brink. This means finding ways to release frozen currency reserves and re-engage the Afghan Central Bank,” Guterres said. .

In December, donors to a World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund agreed to transfer $280 million to the World Food Program (WFP) and the UN agency for Children, UNICEF, to support nutrition and health in Afghanistan.

“We need the remaining $1.2 billion to be released urgently to help the Afghan people survive the winter,” Guterres said. “Hurry up.”

Earlier this month, the United Nations appealed for $4.4 billion in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan in 2022. On Wednesday, it said it needed another $3.6 billion. for health and education, basic infrastructure, promotion of livelihoods and social cohesion, especially the needs of women and women. girls.

The UN has pledged to work with countries to ensure funds are not misappropriated or misused, but UN special envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons noted on Wednesday that donors were still reluctant to release funds.

“It is clear that donors, facing their own domestic constituents, are still not happy with political progress in Afghanistan and are closely watching encouraging signals,” Lyons said.

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Jonathan Landay; edited by Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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