UN High-level Ministerial meeting on the Humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

  • Speech (check against delivery)
Subjects: Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan.
Location
Virtual address
13 September 2021

Thank you very much Madam Chair and thank you Secretary General Guterres for convening this meeting at a critical time for Afghanistan. Australia is deeply concerned by the current situation in Afghanistan. The political situation remains unresolved, the early steps of the incoming regime have not generated confidence and the proposed model of governance is unrepresentative. A broad-based inclusive administration is a necessity for long-term peace, stability and prosperity.

Reports of widespread rollback of the rights of women and girls, the reintroduction of restrictions on their access to services and public spaces gives us cause for even greater concern. The social equity gains made in the last 20 years in Afghanistan, particularly for women and girls and for minorities, are essential advances that must be preserved, protected and supported, including through funded international and other programs.

Terrorism remains a central point of apprehension for the international community. Terrorist organisations and the support networks upon which they depend must not be allowed to find a home inside Afghanistan, nor will the international community accept Afghanistan as a place from which terrorism is exported.

The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is the direct result of a failure to achieve a political resolution to the conflict through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led negotiated peace process. Our international humanitarian response must ensure that we pay particular attention to the most vulnerable, including displaced women and children who face the challenges of drought, conflict and social exclusion.

We know that the need, which was already acute before recent events, is now severe. Australia stands in solidarity with the Afghan people. We will play our part and respond to those most in need. Australia has appointed a special representative on Afghanistan to lead Australia's humanitarian and diplomatic response. We know that the international community will need to work together diplomatically and inside Afghanistan to help manage the impact of displaced and vulnerable people. We cannot do this without significant funding support.

Today I can indicate that Australia will contribute 100,000,000 Australian dollars in humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. This includes $65,000,000 in immediate life-saving assistance and support to displaced people and Afghan refugees. We have also committed at least $35,000,000 in ongoing humanitarian assistance to 2024.

This builds on our one and a half billion-dollar expenditure for Afghanistan’s development over the last 20 years. We stand ready with our international partners to provide further support to Afghanistan people as the crisis evolves.

We will work through our UN humanitarian partners with a specific focus on supporting woman and girls. We commend UN OCHA in obtaining guarantees from the Taliban authorities for unimpeded humanitarian assistance to those most in need and for the safety and security of all humanitarian staff. We urge the observing of those guarantees.

We also welcome the commitments made by other nations today. And recognise the dedication of you Secretary General and your staff of supporting Afghanistan at this difficult time. Australia joins calls to allow humanitarian work to precede unimpeded. Our message to the Taliban regime is this:

Safe passage must be permitted to our citizens and our visa holders, there must be a cessation of violence and terrorism cannot be allowed to find a home in Afghanistan. Human rights must be upheld, especially for woman and girls and the political system of Afghanistan must be inclusive. We will judge the Taliban by its actions.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

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