A powerful earthquake has killed at least 1,000 people and injured 1,500 in eastern Afghanistan.
At the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) briefing on Afghanistan, India expressed its deepest condolences to the victims and their families who were impacted by the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan and vowed to provide assistance and support in this hour of need.
Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador TS Tirumurti, while addressing the Council said, “At the outset, I express deepest condolences to the victims and their families, and to all those impacted by the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan. India shares the grief of the people of Afghanistan and is ready to provide assistance and support in this hour of need.”
Mr Tirumurti noted that as a contiguous neighbour and long-standing partner of Afghanistan, India has direct stakes in ensuring the return of peace and stability to the country.
“Given our strong historical and civilizational linkages to the Afghan people, we are deeply concerned about the recent developments in Afghanistan, especially the deteriorating humanitarian situation,” he added.
The Ambassador highlighted that India supported the Security Council Resolution 2615 that provided for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, while ensuring that the Security Council would continue to exercise its oversight to guard against any possible diversion of funds and misuse of exemptions from sanctions.
“We note the briefing by the Emergency Relief Coordinator on the working of the resolution. We hope that the ‘humanitarian carve outs’ of this Resolution are fully utilized by the UN agencies and their aid partners,” Mr Tirumurti stressed.
India reiterated that humanitarian assistance should be based on principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence. “The disbursement of humanitarian aid should be non-discriminatory and accessible to all, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, or political belief. In particular, the assistance should reach the most vulnerable first, including women, children, and minorities,” the Ambassador noted during the briefing.
In response to the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, India has dispatched several shipments of humanitarian assistance consisting of 30,000 MTs of wheat, 13 tons of medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID-19 Vaccine and winter clothing.
These humanitarian consignments were handed over to the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital, Kabul, and UN specialized agencies such as World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP).
To ensure fair and just distribution of India’s wheat assistance, the Government of India signed an agreement with the UNWFP for the distribution of 50,000 MT of wheat within Afghanistan. The dispatch of this wheat to Afghanistan has already commenced.
Moreover, to oversee the utilization of India’s medical and food-grain assistance and to further assess the humanitarian requirements of Afghan people, an Indian team visited Kabul recently (on June 2-3) and met with the representatives of the International Organizations involved in the distribution of the humanitarian assistance.
In addition, the team also visited places where Indian programmes and projects are being implemented like Indira Gandhi Children Hospital, Habibia High School, Chimtala sub-power station and the UNWFP wheat distribution center.
“We are now in the process of shipping more medical assistance and food grains to Afghanistan. We also gifted one million doses of “Made-in-India” COVAXIN COVID-19 vaccines to Iran to administer to the Afghan refugees in Iran. In addition, we have assisted UNICEF by supplying almost 60 million doses of polio vaccine and two tons of essential medicines,” PR to India for UN said during the Council briefing.
Mr Tirumurti said that India’s approach to Afghanistan, as always, will be guided by the country’s historical friendship and its special relationship with the people of Afghanistan.
He added that the expectations of the international community on the way forward in Afghanistan have been clearly set forth in the Council’s Resolution 2593 and reiterated subsequently, including in UNSCR 2626.
“These relate to ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries; formation of a truly inclusive and representative government; combating terrorism and drug trafficking; and preserving the rights of women, children, and minorities,” he said.
Speaking further, Mr Tirumurti noted that India is closely motioning the security situation in Afghanistan and is actively engaging with the international community to ensure consensus on issues of security, peace, and stability.
India also strongly condemn the terrorist attack on Gurudwara Dashmesh Pita Sahibji in Kabul on June 18. “The terrorist assault on places of worship of minority communities and targeting of innocent civilian population continues to be a serious concern,” the Ambassador said.
“The recent findings of the 1988 Sanctions Committee’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team Report indicate that the current authorities need to take much stronger action to fulfil their anti-terrorism commitments. There is a significant increase in the presence of ISIL-K in the country and their capacity to carry out attacks. ISIL-K, with its base reportedly in Afghanistan, continues to issue threats of terrorist attacks on other countries,” he said.
The Ambassador went on to say that the report further noted that the Taliban is yet to dissociate itself from other terrorist groups such as the Al-Qaeda which continue to remain active.
“The linkages between groups listed by the UNSC such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, as well as, provocative statements made by other terrorist groups operating out of Afghanistan pose a direct threat to the region. There are, therefore, serious concerns which need our immediate attention and unified action to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a haven for other terrorist organisations including ISIS-K, Al-Qaeda, JeM and LeT. We need to see concrete progress in ensuring that such proscribed terrorists, entities, or their aliases do not get any support, tacit or direct, either from Afghan soil or from the terror sanctuaries based in the region,” Mr Tirumurti said while specifying the need to combat the acts of terrorism.
He said that, on the political front, India continues to call for an inclusive dispensation in Afghanistan which represents all sections of the Afghan society. The Ambassador added that a broad-based, inclusive, and representative formation is necessary for both domestic and international engagement.
Furthermore, speaking on the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, Mr Tirumurti noted, “We are deeply concerned about recent developments in Afghanistan which directly impact the well-being of women and girls of Afghanistan. There has been an increasing attempt towards removing women from public life in Afghanistan. We join others in calling for ensuring the protection of the rights of women and girls and to ensure that the long-fought gains of the last two decades are not reversed.”
Concluding his briefing, Mr Tirumurti stressed that peace and security in Afghanistan are critical imperatives that all need to collectively strive for.
“India will continue to play its role towards the pursuit of that objective. The interests of Afghan people will continue to be at the heart of our efforts in Afghanistan,” he said.
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