20 years of US presence in Afghanistan cost thousands of lives of ordinary Afghans and American soldiers, and billions dollars spent. But then they double-heartedly abandoned the Afghan people, and left them one-on-one with devastation, poverty, terrorism, and hunger.Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC
Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC briefing on the situation in Afghanistan
2 March 2022
At the outset let me congratulate the delegation of the UAE on assuming Presidency of the Security Council and wish them a successful month. You can count on our support.
We thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNAMA Ms.Deborah Lyons for her insights and assessments of the situation on the ground. We are also very attentive to the opinions of Afghans – Ms. Mariam Safi and Ambassador Naseer Faiq.
We welcome that representatives of regional countries have a say in discussing such a critical topic.
We studied carefully the recent report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan, which is constantly changing. The new Afghan authorities demonstrate readiness to establish constructive interaction with the international community. We note efforts that they take to address political, socio-economic, humanitarian, and human rights problems. Among meaningful positive changes, we can name a decree released by the leader of Taliban, Mullah Hibatullah, that orders to take measures to uphold rights of women in issues relating to marriage, inheriting property, and some others. Women are allowed to do business while observing Islam and Afghan values. Increased attention is paid to issues of education. In February, universities resumed their classes. Schooling for girls is available in approximately one third of Afghan provinces. We also note the improving security situation, which made it possible for humanitarians to access regions that could not be accessed before.
We still expect Talibs to take serious measures to uphold the obligations that they took upon. First of all in terms of finalizing the process of inter-Afghan settlement and forming truly inclusive power authorities that should account for interests of all major ethnical and political forces of the country. We note the importance of continuous efforts aimed at countering drug and terrorism threats. Let me underscore that we also speak of these concerns during our bilateral contacts with the new authorities.
Our common priority remains unchanged. It is preserving of stability in Afghanistan. This is the task that we share with the Afghans, and the situation in the region will largely depend on how we approach this. However we cannot speak of effective resolution of lasting problems and emerging challenges while there is the lack of national potential, outflow of professional personnel and shortage of financial resources. Let me remind that 20 years ago the United States entered Afghanistan with a special mission – fight against terrorism. But in reality their arrival only stepped up Afghanistan’s status as a hotbed of drugs and terrorists. Apart from Al-Qaida and its affiliates, another terrorist group emerged and gained a foothold in Afghanistan – it was ISIL. Over the years of its military presence, the United States had numerous opportunities (material, military, and technical) and lots of time to eradicate terrorists in Afghanistan. We repeatedly asked them about unidentified helicopters that transported terrorists and equipment to various areas of the country, including its northern territories – this was happening while the coalition was in full control of the situation, at least that is what they said.
During those years, drug production also peaked to unprecedented heights. Against this backdrop, the socio-economic situation in Afghanistan remained deplorable. Billions-worth money infusions ended up in the hands of corrupt America’s lackeys. As a result, Afghanistan turned into a total dependent at the global arena that had no prospects for self-reliant development.
20 years of US presence in Afghanistan cost thousands of lives of ordinary Afghans and American soldiers, and billions dollars spent. But then they double-heartedly abandoned the Afghan people, and left them one-on-one with devastation, poverty, terrorism, and hunger.
Therefore we regret that some members of the global community are still unready to provide comprehensive assistance in order to normalize socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan without preconditions and limitations.
It has been two and a half months since the Security Council adopted resolution 2615 that was called i.a. to boost humanitarian assistance via all channels in order to respond to the expanding Afghan crisis. We commend efforts of UN humanitarian agencies. We have taken note of their preliminary plans to convene another international donor conference for Afghanistan on 31 March in order to mobilize financial support and assess progress at those tracks. However, those steps are not enough to ensure lasting post-conflict recovery in Afghanistan.
With a paralyzed banking system and wide unemployment, the people of Afghanistan remain on the edge of subsistence, even ready to sell their own children, to say nothing of human organs. Even though the situation is tragic, we see that some states are trying to postpone the release of assets and put it on the back burner. In this regard, the Executive Order that President of the United States signed on 11 February 2022 appears to be nothing less than a mockery. The order rules to block the accounts of the Central Bank of Afghanistan and reserve part of the frozen funds to pay off compensations under claims filed by relatives of 9/11 victims. The attempt to make the innocent people of Afghanistan responsible for this tragedy looks immoral.
If Afghanistan collapses completely, the consequences will be farther-reaching and wider spread than it might seem at the first sight. It will inevitably lead to a mass flow of refugees, transfer of terrorist activity, growth of drug production and, as a result, even greater instability in the region and beyond.
Further degradation is something ISIL and other groups will only benefit from, among them “Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement”, “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”, and “Jamaat Ansarullah”. All of us are well aware of ISIL’s plans to spread its influence in the region, and then also in Russia. The problem of drug production and trafficking remains very urgent, as Afghanistan remains the world’s leading supplier of opiates. Risks of terrorists and drug dealers infiltrating Central Asia, i.a. disguised as refugees, cannot but raise concern of our regional partners. We support regular dialogue on that matter hosted by the CSTO and SCO.
In these circumstances, we keep track of the activity of Panjshir fighters from “National Resistance Front of Afghanistan”. Neither the Afghan people, nor the region at large would want for the situation to deteriorate into a full-fledged civil war.
We would like to remind that attempts to talk to the new Afghan authorities in the language of ultimatums are counter-productive. We also stress that it is critically important to be able to learn from simple mistakes. Peaceful settlement in Afghanistan can only be achieved through a constructive dialogue that should take into account regional specifics and adequately analyze present-day reality. The extended “Troika” and the Moscow Format are the examples of such successful and effective interaction.
Against this backdrop, we support regular contacts of UNAMA and the new Afghan authorities. We took note of Secretary-General’s recommendations as to modalities of UNAMA’s future engagement in Afghanistan. We agree that the special political mission plays an important role as coordinator of international assistance to Afghanistan. We welcome that UNAMA’s Chief, Ms.Deborah Lyons, is committed to keep monitoring the situation and share relevant objective information with the global community. We do not agree that human rights component of the Mission should be reinforced, and we stand against linking the human rights situation to humanitarian and recovery assistance. UNAMA must not become a kind of a supervisor to meet the interests of those who are not ready to help Afghans without preconditions.
We are convinced that good relations with the host country and trust of host authorities are key to UNAMA’s effectiveness. Success of the Mission will depend on whether its mandate is realistic, clear, and attainable, and whether it accounts for concrete regional specifics and peculiarities rather than some abstract notions. Another important factor that has been and remains relevant is consent of the authorities to a new format of UNAMA’s presence and changes of modalities of its work.