UN Chief Urges Scaling Up Humanitarian Operations in Afghanistan to Save Lives

UN Chief Urges Scaling Up Humanitarian Operations in Afghanistan to Save Lives

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged the international community to scale up humanitarian operations to save lives in Afghanistan.

"First and most urgently, we need to scale-up our humanitarian operations to save lives," the UN chief told the Security Council meeting on Afghanistan, warning that six months after the takeover by the Taliban, "Afghanistan is hanging by a thread."

"We need to suspend the rules and conditions that constrict not only Afghanistan's economy, but our lifesaving operations," said Guterres. "At this moment of maximum need, these rules must be seriously reviewed," Xinhua news agency reported.

Talking about the urgency for the humanitarian operations, Guterres said that for Afghans, daily life has become "a frozen hell."

"They're in the grips of another brutal winter of blistering wind, cold and snow. Families huddle in makeshift tents under plastic sheets - even burning their possessions to keep warm."

"Afghans are stalked not only by COVID-19, but by deadly preventable diseases like measles, diarrhea and even polio," he added.

Speaking about the economic situation in the country, the top UN official said that "we need to jump-start Afghanistan's economy through increased liquidity."

"We must pull the economy back from the brink," he said. "This means finding ways to free-up frozen currency reserves and re-engage Afghanistan's Central Bank."

Turning to the Taliban, the secretary general said that "now is the time for the Taliban to expand opportunity and security for its people, and demonstrate a real commitment to be a part of the global community."

"The window for trust-building is open. But this trust must be earned," he added.

"I urge the Taliban to work closely with the global community - and this council - to suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan and build institutions that promote security," the UN chief added.

Referring to the sanctions imposed on the country, the secretary general said that sanctions and mistrust by the global banking system have frozen nearly 9 billion US dollars in central bank assets.

The UN chief welcomed the Security Council's adoption of a humanitarian exemption to the United Nations sanctions regime for Afghanistan.

"We need to give financial institutions and commercial partners legal assurance that they can work with humanitarian operators without fear of breaching sanctions," he said.

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