Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also warned that “Afghanistan is hanging by a thread” while millions of impoverished citizens are struggling to survive.
The Taliban must uphold the fundamental human rights of women and children, the head of the United Nations said, and called on the international community to release frozen Afghan aid to prevent families from selling their babies to buy food.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also warned on Wednesday that “Afghanistan is hanging by a thread” as millions of impoverished citizens struggle to survive amid deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
“We call on the Taliban to seize this moment and gain international trust and goodwill by recognizing and upholding basic human rights. to every girl and wife, ”Guterres said at a UN Security Council meeting.
He expressed concern over recent reports of arbitrary arrests and abductions of women activists, saying “I strongly urge their release.”
At the same time, he added: “I call on the international community to strengthen support for the people of Afghanistan,” including through the release of aid funds in Washington that remain frozen by the World Bank and the US government.
Some $ 9.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves remain blocked outside the country and international support given to the previous government has dried up since the Taliban seized power last August.
More than half of all Afghans face “extreme levels of hunger,” Guterres told the council, and “some families are selling their babies to buy food.”
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun mentioned the case of one woman who “sold her two daughters and a kidney” to feed her family.
“This is a human tragedy,” he said, implicitly urging Washington to lift “unilateral sanctions” and facilitate the freezing of Afghan assets.
The UN continues to call for “a relaxation of those sanctions” that are hurting the economy and preventing the full delivery of essential services, UN envoy to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons told the council via video link.
Guterres said international aid agencies and donors “should get Afghanistan’s economy going through increased liquidity,” including $ 1.2 billion from a World Bank-managed fund for Afghanistan’s frozen reconstruction.
“Without action, lives will be lost, and despair and extremism will grow,” he said.
The UN called for $ 4.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan in 2022 earlier this month. On Wednesday, it said it needed a further $ 3.6 billion for health and education, basic infrastructure, promotion of livelihoods and social cohesion, specifically the needs of women and girls.
Taliban officials recently hold talks with Western powers in Oslo to address the humanitarian crisis, with Western diplomats linking humanitarian aid to Afghanistan with an improvement in human rights.
Store, whose country currently chairs the Security Council, called for Wednesday’s sitting of the 15-member body to explain the mandate of the UN’s political mission in Afghanistan.
The mandate expires on March 17 and must be reviewed to account for the Taliban’s return to power.