Thursday, June 21, 2018

Statement by Mr. Nazifullah Salarzai Deputy Permanent Representative and Charge d’ Affairs of Afghanistan at the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment

Mr. Chairman

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My delegation aligns itself with the statements delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Bangladesh on behalf of the Group of the Least Developed Countries.

Mr. Chairman,

This year’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment comes at a critical time, one in which humanitarian crises worldwide are raising serious concerns about protection of civilians, particularly women and children in conflict, and promotion and protection of human rights.  In addition, these situations are negatively impacting countries’ efforts towards achieving sustainable development goals. This is why this year’s theme “Restoring Humanity, Respecting Human Dignity and Leaving No-one Behind: Working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability” should be our point of departure for reflection on emerging and pressing humanitarian issues, resulting in actionable deliberations for strengthened coordination of the humanitarian assistance of the United Nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Afghanistan continues to face significant humanitarian challenges. In fact, the emergency landscape is one of the most complex and challenging in the world. The challenges caused by terrorism and violent extremism and a long imposed conflict have led to a high number of casualties and disabilities among civilians, including women and children. Deliberate attacks on civilian spaces, like schools, hospitals, mosques, and voter registration centers, have further added to the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country. Additionally, another consequence of this challenging security scenario has been the protracted situation of refugees and internally displaced persons, who constitute one of the most vulnerable groups needing assistance. We have had over 200,000 voluntary repatriations, deportees, and refugees in the last quarter; these people are in severe need of food, water, sanitation, livelihood, and healthcare to survive, which has further complicated the humanitarian situation.

Mr. Chairman,

In mid-April, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock officially declared a drought. As we speak, extreme dry weather and drought have affected two-thirds of the country and threaten the lives and livelihoods of at least two million people, who are in dire need of humanitarian assistance for survival. Additionally, we expect two million more who could feel the effects of drought over the coming months. Drought-related migration has begun in some provinces, and if this condition exacerbates, more than a million people might have to leave their homes.

In the backdrop of this ongoing crisis, humanitarian activities in Afghanistan had received $129.3 million in funding, of which $98.2 million was for activities included in the Humanitarian Response Plan. We wish to thank the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Agencies for their work on the ground. Further, we call on the international community to fully fund Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Response Plan 2018-2021 which, after the current revisions due to the drought affecting the country, will reach to 4.2 million people with emergency humanitarian and protection assistance in 2018.

Ladies and Gentlemen,        

For the first time, the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan spans across a period of 4 years. This decision stems from the recognition that both acute humanitarian and chronic needs coexist in the country. While humanitarian programing is urgently required, chronic needs of the population are being addressed through the implementation of the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework, plan to achieve self-reliance and thereby increase the welfare of our people. The Humanitarian Response Plan will serve to provide timely and life-saving assistance to families in emergency shelters or in need of urgent support across the country. This plan will help the most vulnerable Afghans in dire situations, and provide life-saving assistance much needed for their survival.

Mr. Chairman,

Today, more than ever, it is clear that we will not be able to honor the ambitious commitments of the 2030 Agenda if we do not adopt a comprehensive approach to sustainable development – one that understands and integrates the complex challenges brought by humanitarian emergencies. In this regard, it is crucial to ensure that the environmental dimension of sustainable development and related issues such as mitigation and adaptation to climate change and effective water management to prevent crises brought by droughts – is appropriately addressed, including through a humanitarian perspective.

Mr. Chairman,

To conclude, Afghanistan remains committed to work together with the international community in shaping a new, more effective and comprehensive approach to humanitarian intervention, enabling us to prevent and respond to existing and emerging emergencies to achieve sustainable development and prosperity for all.

I thank you

Afghanistan Elected Chair of UN General Assembly Third Committee

PRESS RELEASE
5 June 2018

Afghanistan Elected Chair of UN General Assembly Third Committee

Afghanistan was unanimously elected on Tuesday as Chair of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly for its upcoming 73rd Session, and will be represented by H.E. Mahmoud Saikal, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN.

The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly covers agenda items relating to a range of important human rights, social and humanitarian issues that affect people all over the world. It meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.

Afghanistan’s election, on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group, as Chair of one of the key committees of the main body of the UN General Assembly signifies the international community’s recognition of Afghanistan’s significant gains in the field of human rights

In addition to its chairmanship of UNGA Third Committee for the 73rd session, Afghanistan is currently one of the Vice-Presidents of the General Assembly and is a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC) and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

UN Security Council Open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Statement by Mr. Nazifullah Salarzai

Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

At the UN Security Council Open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

May 22, 2018

(Check against delivery)

 Mr. President,

Let me first thank the Mission of Poland for convening this Ministerial Open Debate on the urgent issue of the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts. I would like to extend my gratitude to H.E. Mr. Jacek Czaputowicz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and other distinguished speakers for their statements.

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting is of crucial importance for Afghanistan – a country that has seen decades of imposed conflict, including terrorism and violent extremism, leading to a disproportionate number of civilian deaths and injuries.  Recently, we have seen a significant increase in barbaric attacks on our civilians, where our schools, mosques, hospitals, and as of late, electoral registration sites and other safe spaces – purely of civilian nature – have come under attack. By systematically targeting our children, medical personnel, journalists, commuters, and ordinary men and women, the Taliban and other terrorist groups who have come from outside our borders, have sought to compensate losses on the battlefield with attacks on soft targets and sowing fear and discord in our society.

Based on our recent estimates, in last year alone, 2,903 civilian deaths and over 6,000 civilian injuries occurred as a result of enemy attacks nationwide, mainly on civilian targets.

The UNAMA 2017 Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict clearly depicts how the Taliban and other terrorist groups  have used suicide attacks, including targeted and deliberate killings, bombs and other explosive devices,  abductions, and other arbitrary and extrajudicial punishments against our civilian population.  As we assemble here to discuss the crucial issue of protecting civilians in conflict, only a few hours ago there was another terrorist attack in Kandahar that reportedly killed 16 and wounded over 30 civilians.  The utter disregard for human life, as demonstrated in these attacks, constitute a clear violation of international humanitarian law.    

In this background, the Security Council’s landmark resolution 2286 (2016), reaffirms its determination to bring the behavior of parties to conflict and Member States alike, in line with international humanitarian law. It also highlights the obligation of parties to a conflict to protect and care for the wounded and sick, to respect and protect those providing impartial medical care, and to facilitate their mission.  In the same light, prevention and mitigation of harm to civilian population, remains a key priority to the Government of Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

While being at the forefront of fighting international terrorism, our brave defense and security forces have valiantly defended our territorial integrity and safety and security of civilian population. Further, we have also developed and improved a number of strategic, operational, and tactical measures to protect civilians during conflict.

  • In October 2017, we endorsed the National Policy on Civilian Casualty Prevention and Mitigation and its implementation plan. This plan consists of specific guidelines for our security forces to prevent and mitigate civilian casualties and harm to properties.
  • Further, the plan strictly prohibits any use of civilian facilities such as schools, hospitals, and clinics for military purposes.
  • Additionally, our government agencies have continued to promptly and thoroughly investigate any possible violations of the provisions of the policy by any Government official or agency, and take appropriate corrective measures, as recommended in the 2017 UNAMA Annual report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.
  • We have also ratified the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, including all amendments and protocols in August 2017, which will result in improved protections of civilians.
  • Additionally, the Tawhid Center in the National Security Council has been established to maintain a database for tracking conflict related civilian casualties, among other responsibilities.
  • We are strongly committed to ensuring that our security forces operate within national and international laws and regulations to protect civilians during military operations. Our Ministry of Defense has established an internal board for investigating allegations of human rights abuses, including civilian casualties and recruitment of children into armed forces.
  • In 2010, we established an Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Children and Armed Conflict. The following year, the Committee developed a National Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment of children in our defense and security forces.
  • Among other reforms, we established 21 Child Protection Units with the Afghan National and Local Police recruitment centers that have prevented over one hundred underage voluntary enlistment.
  • Moreover, NATO training sessions for senior ANDSF personnel in the area of civilian casualty tracking and mitigation is offered at strategic, operational, and tactical levels.
  • Further, the Civilian Casualties Avoidance and Mitigation Board (CAMB), intended to identify areas to improve civilian casualty meets every three months, and have developed practical efforts undertaken by domestic and international military forces to mitigate casualties.

These measures are clear reflection of our firm commitment to the protection of civilian population. Our protection measures have had an impact on reducing the number of casualties that have been attributed to pro-government forces during combat operations against terrorists. We are pleased that this fact has been acknowledged in the UNAMA POC Report. Moving forward, we will remain fully committed to continue to streamline, improve, and increase our measures to bring rates of civilian harm due to ANDSF operations to as low as possible.

 Needless to say, the absolute majority of civilian casualties are the result of barbaric attacks conducted by the Taliban and other terrorist groups who have no regard for human life and dignity . Regardless of what we do, as long as their deliberate tactics of attacking civilian spaces and targeted killings do not cease, our civilians will continue to suffer. The continuing attacks on hospitals, medical professionals, and humanitarian workers, among other civilians, as well as the recent despicable attack in Kabul, where an ambulance packed with explosives was used, show their complete disregard for international law, Geneva Convention, and UNSCR 2286. In fact, these attacks constitute and meet the definitions of war crimes on civilian population, and stringent action must be taken against the perpetrators, financiers, and planners of such ghastly action.

Mr. President,

Terror, violence, and insecurity in our country are rooted in factors that lie outside Afghanistan, with regional and global dimensions. Hence the goal should be to address this particular issue and overcome the structural drivers of conflict and violence. This Council has a fundamental role to play in that regard, as the main UN body entrusted to maintain international peace and security. We expect the Council to respond appropriately to ensure the protection and well-being of Afghan civilians, who are being senselessly killed and maimed on a daily basis.

 

Thank you Mr. President.

 

Permanent Mission of Afghanistan