UN envoy says international engagement with Afghan Taliban must continue – Xinhua | Daily News Byte

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Roza Otunbayeva (Front), Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), speaks at a Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York, December 20, 2022. The top UN envoy for Afghanistan said on Tuesday that the engagement the international community with the Afghan Taliban must continue in some form. (Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) — The top UN envoy for Afghanistan said Tuesday that the international community must continue in some form with the Afghan Taliban.

“Afghans want continued involvement of the international community and believe that only through increased interaction with the de facto authorities (Taliban) can positive changes occur,” said Roza Otunbayeva, special representative of the UN Secretary General and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

During talks with UNAMA stakeholders, Afghans were frustrated with the international community’s approach, Otunbayeva said.

They expressed a desire for projects that are more long-term, that involve cash-for-work rather than handouts, that are more participatory and consultative and more development-oriented, she told the Security Council at a briefing.

“In the current conditions, however, donors are increasingly unwilling to look beyond the provision of humanitarian aid. As long as girls are excluded from school and de facto authorities continue to ignore other expressed concerns of the international community, we remain at something of a dead end,” she said. . “At UNAMA, we are undertaking an internal audit to assess what has and has not been effective in implementing our mandate. This will provide recommendations regarding our future mandate. But overall we believe that engagement with the de facto authorities must continue in some form”.

UNAMA’s focus must remain on the Afghan people, providing them with life-saving humanitarian assistance, giving voice to their demands for basic rights and freedoms and hope that Afghanistan will not be isolated from the international community, she said. “We are committed to these goals and the effort to maintain space for positive engagement with the Taliban.” But we must do so with a sense of realism, patience and a proper understanding of the situation as it develops.”

Stakeholder consultations were held between October 11 and November 8 in 12 provinces, with 519 participants, including 189 women and 83 de facto government representatives, she said.

The population’s concerns were related to the ban on girls’ education, the lack of health facilities, the population’s mental health problems, poverty and economic insecurity, and discrimination against ethnic minorities. The Taliban have not addressed these issues and, in many cases, their decisions have made them worse, she said.

There are some positive developments in Afghanistan, especially on the economic front, the Special Representative said.

Overall levels of corruption have been significantly reduced since the Taliban took over. A significant reduction in state corruption helps explain that the de facto authorities have announced the collection of more revenue in the first 10 months of 2022 than the Government of the Republic of Afghanistan collected in 2021 and 2020, despite an economic decline of 20 percent in 2021, he said.

With these revenues and the reduction in government spending, the Taliban have been able to finance their operating budget and have shown they have the resources to start some development projects, she said.

The Taliban have also managed to maintain macroeconomic stability, albeit at a much lower level of economic activity. After a sharp deterioration in the currency a year ago, the Afghani has remained generally stable. Exports this year rose to a historic level of about US$1.7 billion, compared to about US$700 million in the Republic, she said.

The de facto authorities are implementing an economic strategy that focuses on self-reliance. They invest in sectors such as agriculture, irrigation, infrastructure, water management, mining and industry, which are the basis for economic growth, she said.

The Taliban have identified the private sector as a key driver of economic growth and are somewhat responsive to the concerns of private sector actors. UNAMA is in regular contact with actors and organizations from the private sector, including women’s chambers of commerce. The main obstacle for larger investments is the high cost of international financial transactions, she said.

Although the Taliban’s economic management has been more effective than expected, it should also be recognized that international donors still feed more than half the population. Cash payments required to deliver humanitarian aid indirectly inject liquidity into the economy. Without this help, the picture in Afghanistan would be much darker, said Otunbayeva.

There is evidence that the Taliban is enforcing the ban on growing opium and other narcotics by destroying fields planted before and after the ban was announced in April, she said.

The Taliban remain largely in control of the country, but are unable to satisfactorily deal with terrorist groups operating inside Afghanistan. There is no significant visible political opposition to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Politicians in exile in the Republic are of course vocal critics. But they are fragmented and their statements have less and less resonance among the population in Afghanistan. The Taliban reject the need for any kind of dialogue within Afghanistan and claim that their government is representative enough, she said.

UNAMA continues to advocate at all levels for wider consultation and representation, and believes that the only way forward for Afghanistan is through pluralistic politics, where all Afghans, especially women and minorities, see themselves represented and have a real voice in decision-making. Now that’s clearly not the case, she said.

“It is clear that there are serious differences of opinion on a number of issues between UNAMA and the de facto authorities.” We, as the UN, have an ongoing dialogue with the Taliban regarding human rights issues and specific violations of international human rights law. We do not see eye to eye with the Taliban on a number of issues. “But the focus is, and should be, on maintaining dialogue in the hope of a better future for Afghanistan, where everyone — women, men, girls and boys — can live life with dignity and equality,” Otunbayeva said.

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