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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Briefing on Afghanistan

2021-11-17 22:30

Madam President, 

I thank SRSG Deborah Lyons and Ms. Karim for their briefings. China thanks Special Representative Lyons for leading UNAMA’s diligent work despite the difficult conditions. 

At present, Afghanistan is at a critical stage from chaos to order, and faces challenges on humanitarian, economic, counter-terrorism and political fronts. Peace and reconstruction remain an uphill task. The international community should strengthen unity and cooperation, lend a helping hand in time and work together to support the country in embarking on the road of peace, stability and development. 

First, it is important to support Afghanistan in alleviating humanitarian difficulties and gradually rebuilding its economy and society. The UN should further play the coordinating role and mobilize all parties to step up humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and deliver as soon as possible. In the long run, it is necessary to help the country rebuild its domestic market, participate in regional and international economic cooperation and find a sound development path. We call on the World Bank and the IMF, among others, to consider resuming financing support to Afghanistan. 

Second, we should actively engage and work with Afghanistan and support the realization of independent, stable and effective state governance in Afghanistan. The future of Afghanistan is in the hands of Afghan people. The international community should give positive guidance to Afghan political parties and ethnic communities, and encourage Afghanistan to keep a broad-based and inclusive political orientation, pursue moderate and steady domestic and foreign policies, protect the basic rights and interests of ethnic minorities, women and children, and develop good neighborly relations and cooperation. 

Third, it is imperative to be vigilant about the rise of terrorism and combat terrorism comprehensively and resolutely. The recent spate of large scale terrorist attacks in Afghanistan have once again demonstrated that terrorist forces are taking advantage of situation to gain strength. China is deeply concerned about this. The international community should urge all parties in Afghanistan to make a clean break with terrorist forces and support its independent, resolved and effective actions to combat all terrorist forces, including the Islamic State and ETIM. 

Fourth, there should be more coordination and thus greater synergy between all the mechanisms on Afghanistan. We support the UN in playing a key coordinating role in the maintenance of stability and delivery of emergency assistance. Afghanistan’s neighbors have officially launched a coordination and cooperation mechanism. And China will host its third foreign ministers’ meeting next year to promote cooperation among neighboring countries and contribute to the long-term stability of Afghanistan. We look forward to the international community's respect and support for the efforts of the neighboring countries. 

Madam President, 

Humanitarian crisis is the most severe and pressing challenge for Afghanistan. Just now, we already heard the briefings from SRSG Lyons. The recent FAO and WFP reports show that more than half of the Afghan population face unprecedented levels of acute hunger and 95% of families don't have sufficient food. UNICEF statistics show that by the end of this year, 3.2 million children under the age of five will be severely malnourished. If no immediate action is taken, 1 million children might perish because of this. As the winter approaches, Afghan people urgently need food, medicine and warm clothes. Otherwise, it will be a very harsh winter. 

In this context, unilateral sanctions, especially the issue of frozen overseas assets of Afghanistan, have become a bottleneck issue that cannot be ignored. Teachers, doctors and nurses in Afghanistan have not received their salaries for more than half a year. When teachers are not paid and schools do not function, where shall we begin to talk about girls’ schooling? If doctors and nurses are not paid, how can we help people fight the pandemic? Asset freeze is a collective punishment of the Afghan people. It is unacceptable morally, and in reality it worsens the humanitarian disasters. The frozen Afghan assets should be returned to the true owners as soon as possible. It cannot be used as a bargaining chip for the purpose of threat or coercion. 

Madam President.

China supports the UN in continuing to play an important role in helping Afghanistan achieve a smooth transition. The future mandate of UNAMA should fully reflect evolving situations, meet the expectation of Afghanistan, and fit in with the work and priorities of relevant international regional mechanisms in a mutually reinforcing manner. On UNAMA’s future mandate, we hope that the SG would listen extensively to Afghan parties and international partners and put forward practical and viable recommendations. 

Thank you, Madam President.

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