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Statement by Ambassador Flynn at the UNSC Briefing on Afghanistan

Thank you Madam President,


Let me join others in congratulating you on assuming the Presidency of the Council.


Thanks you also, SRSG Lyons. I would like to thank you and your team for all the vital work you are doing.


A thank you also to Ms Safi, for her very powerful message to the Council this morning.

Madam President, I will focus on three main points –


First, the continuing and devastating suffering experienced by the Afghan people.


Over six months have passed since the Taliban seized control. And in every discussion since, including today’s, we have heard about the shocking and deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Afghanistan.


Destitution, starvation, attacks on freedom of expression, disappearances, the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, particularly girls, intimidation, sexual and gender based violence, killings – sadly, the list goes on.


For 166 days, the Taliban have denied girls in Afghanistan access to secondary education, denying their fundamental human rights. 


Horrendously, some who bravely work to alleviate suffering in Afghanistan are paying with their lives. We deplore the murders of eight polio vaccination workers last Thursday and call for those responsible to be held accountable.


Economic freefall is causing extreme hardship for millions of Afghans. Humanitarian operations continue to be impeded by the banking and liquidity crisis.  In this context, Ireland welcomes the announcement by the World Bank yesterday of the release of more than $1 billion to support the people of Afghanistan.


Madam President,


Now, as the Council negotiates a mandate for the continued UN presence in Afghanistan, we have an obligation to put the basic needs and human rights of the Afghan people first. We must reaffirm our commitment to decisively address the seismic humanitarian needs in Afghanistan, building on the 1988 Sanctions carve out agreed in December.


Ireland commends the work of the UN Country Team in Afghanistan, implementing the transitional engagement framework in very challenging circumstances in support of those most in need.


We welcome the strong focus in the Secretary-General’s report on the humanitarian catastrophe being endured by the Afghan people.  It is vital that principled humanitarian action is fully safeguarded and remains a key priority for the UN’s vital work in Afghanistan.


Madam President,


This Council must not falter in its responsibility to Afghan women and girls.


On 18 February, the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security was briefed on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. The stark messages conveyed by you, SRSG Lyons, and your colleagues, left us in no doubt of the Taliban’s systematic and continuous erosion of the rights of Afghan women and girls.


We need to do much more to hold the Taliban to account for their actions. Afghanistan will only achieve stability when the rights and talents of all its people are respected and when there is inclusive and representative governance.


UNAMA’s future mandate must have, at its core, an unambiguous commitment to women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in all dialogue and political processes. To put it simply - the voices of Afghan women need to be heard and, most importantly, heeded.  Women, Peace and Security should be at the heart of the UN’s work in Afghanistan– it should be a golden thread guiding us all at this dark time for Afghan women.


Lastly, Madam President,


We have witnessed six months of the Taliban’s contempt for human rights, compounding the violations and abuses of two decades of war. This Council has a duty to respond.


A robust Human Rights mandate for UNAMA is essential.


A strong human rights mandate will save lives, ensuring that those who suffer human rights abuses are heard and not condemned to silence. It will facilitate accountability. It will protect civilians, including women, children and minorities. Human rights issues are far more difficult to address if they are not documented.


The minimum this Council can do is to ensure the plight of the Afghan people is recorded, is not forgotten.


To conclude Madam President,


This Council has a responsibility to stand with and support the people of Afghanistan. They need, and deserve, the support, advocacy and partnership of the UN now more than ever.  Their urgent needs must define our efforts over the coming weeks. Let us keep them front and centre as we decide a new mandate for the UN in Afghanistan.


Thank you.


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