To think UN can fix Afghanistan ‘a fantasy’, says Guterres

Aid conference for Afghanistan at United Nations in Geneva
Aid Conference for Afghanistan at the United Nations in Geneva
FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an aid conference for Afghanistan at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland September 13, 2021. Reuters / Dennis Ballybouse

September 16, 2021

by Michelle Nichols and Mary Milliken

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that any suggestion the world body can solve Afghanistan’s problems is “a fantasy” and limited its ability to mediate for a more inclusive Taliban government.

Asked in an interview with Reuters a month after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan from the Western-backed government, Guterres said: “I think there is a hope.” which is baseless” as the influence of the United Nations as the main international organization is still on the ground there.

The world has seen many countries send thousands of troops to Afghanistan and spend huge sums of money for 20 years since the Taliban was ousted from a US-led offensive to shelter al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The United States spent $1 trillion, only to see the Afghan government and military that supported the collapse before the full withdrawal of US and other foreign forces in August.

“To think – given that they have failed with all these resources to fix Afghanistan’s problems – that we can now, without the forces and money, solve problems they haven’t been able to solve for decades. Can,” Guterres continued. The annual United Nations gathering of world leaders in New York next week.

The United Nations will do whatever it takes for a country that Guterres said is “on the verge of a dramatic humanitarian disaster” and has decided to enlist the Taliban to help Afghanistan’s nearly 36 million people.

Even before the Taliban captured the capital, Kabul, half of the country’s population was dependent on aid. It is set to grow in the face of drought and shortages and the World Food Program warned that 14 million people were on the verge of starvation.

Guterres said he supports efforts to persuade the Taliban to form a more inclusive government than they ruled 20 years ago. The United Nations, he said, has little capacity to mediate, and should “take note of the position of an international organization that is there to support the Afghan people.”

“You can’t expect miracles,” he said, stressing that the United Nations could engage with the Taliban, but the Islamic movement would never accept the UN’s role in helping to form a new Afghan government.

Guterres said humanitarian aid should be used as a means to help persuade the Taliban to respect fundamental rights, including those of women and girls.

Governments this week pledged more than $1.1 billion in aid to refugee programs in Afghanistan and neighboring countries. Guterres also called on countries to ensure that the Afghan economy “doesn’t get completely strangled.”

The world’s response to the government of Taliban veterans and hardliners announced last week has been calm, and shows no sign of international recognition or moves to unblock more than $9 billion in foreign reserves held outside Afghanistan.

“There must be a way to put some cash into the Afghan economy, for the economy to collapse and people not to get into a dramatic situation, perhaps forcing millions of people to flee,” said Guterres, who said his Will start the second five years. Term as UN chief on January 1, 2022.

He said the United Nations would work with its allies to ensure that aid is distributed on the basis of humanitarian principles and that “all are treated equally without discrimination of any kind on the basis of gender, ethnicity or any other consideration.” should be treated.”

Guterres stressed that it was too early to know whether the Taliban would respect rights and govern responsibly.

He called the situation in Afghanistan “unpredictable”, and added: “No one knows what will happen, but it is important to be involved.”

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Mary Milliken; Additional reporting by Daniel Fastenberg; Editing by Grant McCool)

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