Doing everything in power to ensure your safety, well-being: Guterres to UN personnel in Afghanistan

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United Nations: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said he shares the concern, anxiety and pain of the United Nations personnel in Afghanistan, asserting that the world organisation is doing everything in its power to ensure their safety and well-being.

Guterres, in a video message to UN personnel in war-torn Afghanistan on Tuesday, said that they have our full support and solidarity .

I want to personally thank you for everything you are doing to support the Afghan people in this time of crisis. I speak for the entire United Nations family when I say, we are all deeply grateful to you for your service, in particular the Afghan national colleagues. You represent the best of the values of the United Nations, he said.

I know most of you, especially the humanitarian actors, want to stay and deliver to respond to the dramatic needs of the Afghan people, he said, adding that the safety of all United Nations personnel in Afghanistan is our top priority.

And we are doing everything in our power, namely through the permanent engagement with all relevant actors, and will continue to do so to ensure your safety and well-being, and to find external solutions where they are needed, Guterres said.

The UN chief told the UN personnel that he shares their concern, anxiety and pain and is distressed by the reports that some of them have experienced harassment and intimidation.

The United Nations has been honoured to work for the people of Afghanistan for decades. Through thick and thin, we have helped to support people in complex situations through wars, conflict, human rights abuses, humanitarian crises and regime change.

As we face this newest major challenge, we are working to ensure essential supplies and to deploy specialist teams to better support you. We remain and will continue to remain and do everything we can both for your safety, and to deliver for the people of Afghanistan who have suffered so much, Guterres said.

So far, the UN in Afghanistan has flown over 220 people from Kabul to Almaty in view of the security and other constraints in the country now under the Taliban’s control.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti told PTI that during the busy month so far of India’s Presidency of the Security Council, one of the major issues that occupied, and continues to occupy, the attention of the 15-nation UN body is the situation in Afghanistan.

The Council has held two sessions on Afghanistan this month, both of which were not scheduled in the original programme of work.

The evolving situation merited meetings, which was called by the penholders on Afghanistan in the Security Council, Estonia and Norway and scheduled by us in our capacity as the President of the Council.

The Security Council was united in agreeing that Afghanistan should not become a safe haven for terrorists. Further, there was a call for an end to violence, protecting the rights of women and minorities, addressing the humanitarian issues immediately and ensuring the safety and security of diplomatic and UN staff, Tirumurti said.

St phane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, had said in a note to correspondents on Sunday that the 120 people included UN personnel and members of several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that serve as implementing partners of the UN in Afghanistan.

Part of the UN personnel who left Kabul today will continue to work out of Almaty, Dujarric said.

The world organisation said the UN in Afghanistan is currently focused on the safety of the thousands of its personnel and partners who remain on the ground, as well as the delivery of critical humanitarian and other assistance to millions of Afghans in need.

The UN family in Afghanistan is acutely aware of the great concerns of some personnel, particularly national colleagues. We are doing our utmost to support them and their safety, he said.

Last week, Dujarric told reporters that a group of about 100 UN personnel from across the UN system travelled from Kabul to Almaty, where they will continue their work remotely.

As the Secretary-General told the Security Council on August 16th, the United Nations presence in Afghanistan will adapt to the security situation. In light of the security and other constraints in Kabul and other parts of the country at the moment, it was decided to move a part of the UN staff out of the country.

Personnel will return to Afghanistan as conditions permit, Dujarric had said.

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