United Nations/Geneva, Mar 7 (PTI): India said on Monday that it will continue to coordinate with “stakeholders” towards enabling expeditious provision of much needed humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, days after New Delhi sent shipments of wheat to Afghanistan.
“India’s approach to Afghanistan has always been guided by its historical friendship with its people…We remain steadfast in our commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Geneva Ambassador Indramani Pandey said. Pandey was speaking at the interactive dialogue with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on her report on strengthening promotion and protection of human rights in Afghanistan during the 49th Session of the Human Rights Council.
He said that in this endeavour, India has already supplied 4000MT of wheat, half a million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN, 13 tonnes of essential lifesaving medicines and winter clothing for the Afghan people. These consignments were handed over to the UN specialised agencies the World Health Organisation and the World Food Programme. “As Afghanistan’s largest regional development partner, India would continue to coordinate with other stakeholders to work towards enabling expeditious provision of much needed humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people,” he said.
Last week, India had sent the second shipment of 2,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan via Pakistani land route as part of its humanitarian aid to Afghan people who have been reeling under food shortage. India despatched the first consignment of 2,500 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan through the Pakistani land route on February 22 and it reached the Afghan city of Jalalabad on February 26. Fifty trucks carried the consignment.
India had sent a proposal to Pakistan on October 7 seeking the transit facility to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat to the people of Afghanistan via Pakistan and it received a positive response from Islamabad on November 24. Following the Pakistani response, both sides were in touch to finalise the modalities for the transportation of the shipments. Pandey said that as a contiguous neighbour and a long-standing partner of Afghanistan, recent developments in the war-torn country, particularly the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation continues to be a matter of concern.
“India also shares concerns of the international community on issues related to providing immediate humanitarian assistance; ensuring formation of a truly inclusive and representative government; combating terrorism and drug trafficking and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities,” Pandey said. Bachelet said that the Afghan people face a “devastating humanitarian and economic crisis” that severely impacts their enjoyment of the full range of economic, social and cultural rights. More than half the population now suffer extreme levels of hunger. An increase in child labour, child marriage and the sale of children has been observed.
“Following the Taliban’s takeover, international sanctions that previously applied to the Taliban effectively became sanctions on the country’s de facto governing authorities. The resulting liquidity crisis contributed to a full-scale economic crash. “In addition, non-humanitarian aid to the country – on which almost every essential state function had been dependent prior to the Taliban take-over – was suspended. The Security Council’s adoption in December of Resolution 2615, to exempt humanitarian transactions is a welcome first step to enable work that could save millions of lives,” she said.
She also noted that while the decline in hostilities has seen a sharp decrease in civilian casualties, the human rights situation for many Afghans is of profound concern. From August 15, 2021 to February 15, 2022, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and her office documented at least 1,153 civilian casualties, including 397 deaths.
Several suicide and non-suicide attacks were perpetrated by Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP) against Shia Muslims, mostly from the Hazara ethnic group. “I also note a clear pattern of more than 50 extra-judicial killings of individuals suspected to be linked to the ISKP extremist group, including cases of beheadings in Nangarhar province with bodies left in public places,” she said.
She said she will be urging the de facto authorities to recognise and respect Afghanistan’s State obligations to protect human rights as they implement their own approaches to measures of governance in the country. “This will be fundamental for long term support from the international community. In particular, the full participation, education and empowerment of women and girls is fundamental to Afghanistan’s future peace and development.”
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