UN extends Afghanistan mission by another year
The United Nations Security Council has renewed the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another year while also asking for recommendations on the best way for the international community to continue its work in the Taliban-ruled country.
The 15-member council on Thursday unanimously adopted two resolutions, both drafted by the United Arab Emirates and Japan.
The first “stresses the critical importance of a continued presence of UNAMA” and other UN agencies within Afghanistan, which has been under Taliban rule since the group took control of Kabul in August 2021.
Thursday’s resolution, which extends the mission until March 17, 2024, does not change the UNAMA’s mandate, as defined by last year’s resolution, “in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan”.
The second resolution asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to conduct an “integrated, independent assessment” of the situation in the country, and report back to the UNSC by November 17 with “forward-looking recommendations for an integrated and coherent approach among relevant political, humanitarian, and development actors”.
The report should include information on addressing “humanitarian (challenges), human rights and especially the rights of women and girls, religious and ethnic minorities, security and terrorism, narcotics, development, economic and social challenges, dialogue, governance and the rule of law”, the resolution said.
“We are all aware the situation in Afghanistan is extremely challenging, and that our options are actually very limited, but the status quo is not sustainable,” UAE’s UN ambassador, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, said.
She noted that, given the Taliban’s tightening restrictions on women and girls, some people, “including many Afghan women”, have accused the global community of lacking a “coordinated international political strategy” for dealing with the challenges within the country.
“By requesting this independent assessment, the council is taking a careful and measured response to a difficult crisis with outside expertise and fresh thinking,” Nusseibeh said.
The Taliban, which seized power in August 2021 as the United States-led forces withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years of war, says it respects women’s rights in accordance with its strict interpretation of Islamic law.
But it has banned women and girls from attending high school and university, visiting parks and working for aid groups.
The UNSC expressed concern in the resolution over the lack of progress made by the Taliban on its expectations.
It emphasised “the importance of the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, and upholding human rights, including those of women, children, minorities, and persons in vulnerable situations”.
The UN has made its single-largest country aid appeal ever, asking for $4.6bn in 2023 to deliver help in Afghanistan, where it says two-thirds of the population – some 28 million people – need it to survive.