KABUL — While the choices available in Afghanistan are “not comfortable” ones, continued international engagement and unwavering commitment to the country’s people can help steer the situation to its best possible outcome, the UN’s senior official in Kabul told the UN Security Council on September 9, the UN News service reported.
Deborah Lyons, UN Special Representative and head of the UN’s assistance mission in Afghanistan, said the world will urgently need to devise a “modus vivendi” to allow billions of dollars in frozen donor funds to flow into Afghanistan’s fragile economy.
Citing credible reports of reprisal killings, crackdowns on women’s freedoms and other rights violations by the country’s new Taliban-led administration, she added that the UN will also need to decide how to engage with high-level members of the Taliban’s de facto Government – including the newly named prime minister, two deputy prime ministers and foreign minister – who are currently on UN sanctions lists.
In the new reality that followed the fall of Kabul on 15 August, the world witnessed first scenes of chaos, and then images of protests around Afghanistan.
“These scenes, watched around the world … show that the Taliban have won power, but not yet the confidence of all the Afghan people,” said Ms. Lyons.
As the Council and the global community now ask themselves how to respond, she stressed that there are no “comfortable” answers.
“Those who hoped for, and urged, inclusivity will be disappointed,” she said, noting that no women, minority representatives or non-Taliban individuals have been named as part of the de facto Government.
In addition, several high-ranking officials in the new administration – including the man named Prime Minister, Mullah Hasan Akhund, are currently on UN sanctions lists.
Emphasizing the UN’s commitment to stay and deliver assistance and support to the people of Afghanistan, Ms. Lyons said that means it must engage with the Taliban, including on ways to allow money to flow into Afghanistan.
A high-level international funding conference is slated for September 13 to help donors meet the country’s rising needs.
An additional, looming crisis is the billions of dollars in assets and donor funds that has been frozen by countries in an attempt to deny them to the Taliban.
“The inevitable effect, however, will be a severe economic downturn that could throw millions into poverty and hunger, may generate a massive wave of refugees from Afghanistan, and set Afghanistan back for generations,” the Special Representative warned.
Citing her initial engagement with certain Taliban leaders, she said they clearly stated their need for international assistance, which provides the global community leverage over their actions.
“We can still shape this new reality into a more positive direction,” she stressed.