Published: 13:09, December 23, 2021 | Updated: 14:08, December 23, 2021
Humanitarian aid in Afghanistan should stick to right direction
By Xinhua

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

UNITED NATIONS - Humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan should stick to the right track and direction, said a Chinese envoy on Wednesday in an explanation of vote after the Security Council adopted a resolution that allows a humanitarian exception in Afghanistan sanctions regime.

To that end, China had been constructively engaged in the consultations over the draft resolution and put forward specific amendments, said Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations. "We are glad to see that the final draft (put to vote) has reflected the views of China and clarified the key issues."

The resolution notes in explicit terms that humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan are not a violation of UN sanctions, and that all related financial activities and the provision of goods and services are permitted. It is trusted that, with the adoption of this resolution, the confusion over and the obstacles to continuing the humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan can be cleared away once and for all, said Zhang.

We believe that any action of the Security Council should genuinely promote and facilitate humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, instead of setting artificial restrictions and conditions.  

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN

Due to the existing international sanctions, some international humanitarian agencies are not sure whether they can continue to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August. Such doubts are unnecessary because humanitarian aid should not be conditional, nor should it be politicized under any circumstances. The sanctions by the Security Council only target certain individuals and entities, not the Afghan people at large. Nevertheless, as long as the appropriate actions of the Security Council help to clarify doubts and facilitate the timely, smooth and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, China will certainly look at them favorably, he said.

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The first draft deviated from the right track. Not only did it not facilitate humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, it even added to the obstacles. The original draft set a time limit for the humanitarian exception, and also set up an onerous reporting mechanism for humanitarian aid agencies and incorporated many other irrelevant propositions that may restrict economic cooperation with Afghanistan, he said.

"We believe that any action of the Security Council should genuinely promote and facilitate humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, instead of setting artificial restrictions and conditions. In particular, the provision that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan will not violate the Security Council resolutions only if it falls within the time limits is legally, politically and logically problematic," said Zhang.

The Chinese ambassador called for more humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan since the resolution has been adopted.

"To borrow an analogy, this resolution can only fix the faucet. To keep the water running, responsibility on the part of the international community is still needed," he said.

The 2022 UN humanitarian response appeal for Afghanistan amounts to $4.5 billion and there is a great funding gap. China calls on the international community, especially major donors, to step up. The countries that caused the current crisis in Afghanistan are more obliged than others to take the lead and assume the primary responsibilities, he said.

What's more, compared with the humanitarian crisis, the economic crisis facing Afghanistan is a fundamental problem. At present, Afghanistan's economy is seriously short of liquidity and on the verge of collapse. In this context, unilateral sanctions, especially the freezing of overseas assets, have become a bottleneck problem that cannot be ignored, said Zhang.

The countries concerned cannot continue to freeze substantial Afghan overseas assets while claiming to be caring about humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. China once again calls for the unfreezing of Afghanistan's overseas assets as soon as possible. These assets should be returned to their real owners, and cannot be used as a bargaining chip for threats or coercion, he said.

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Humanitarian aid only tackles the urgent need while helping Afghanistan to revitalize the economy and boost development provides the fundamental solution. The international community should maintain contact and actively guide the Taliban, help the interim government maintain the normal operation of agencies, maintain security and stability, and promote economic and social recovery and reconstruction, said Zhang.

In the face of fundamental changes in Afghanistan's domestic situation, the Security Council should seriously review the existing sanctions regime so as to prevent any negative impact on Afghanistan's economic and social development, he added.

As a friendly neighbor and sincere friend of Afghanistan, China has been providing support within its capacity for Afghanistan's peaceful reconstruction and economic development. Going forward, China will continue to promote the export of Afghanistan's agricultural products to China and play a greater role in helping Afghanistan's economic reconstruction with concrete actions, he said.

"When it comes to advancing peace and development in Afghanistan and providing assistance to the Afghan people, what we need is leadership in action, rather than words," said Zhang.