Thursday, July 2, 2015

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives in Afghanistan

The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kabul today following the attack on a Kabul guesthouse last week in which five UN staff members were killed and others were injured.

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives in Afghanistan

Mr Ban will meet UN staff, his Special Representative and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Kai Eide, heads of UN agencies and security officials.

The Secretary-General will also meet Dr Abdullah Abdullah and President Hamid Karzai to assure them and the Afghan people of the continuing support of the United Nations towards the development of the country and the humanitarian assistance that the UN provides to millions of Afghans everyday.

Last week Mr Ban, in reaction to the attack on the Kabul guesthouse, told a press conference in New York: “Those who gave their lives … came to Afghanistan armed not with guns or bullets. They came with a more powerful weapon – hope. Hope for a better day for Afghanistan and a commitment to help its people build a better world and a better future. We will not be deterred from this noble mission. We stand by the people of Afghanistan today, and we will do so tomorrow.”

Ban Ki-moon has previously visited Kabul in February 2009 and June 2007 as UN Secretary-General.

Secretary-General’s opening remarks at the Security Council stakeout

Good afternoon. I have just briefed the Security Council on the terrorist attacks against UNAMA [UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan] which happened yesterday where five of our staff were killed and nine were wounded.

I told the Security Council of the heroism of the security officers of UNAMA. For at least an hour, and perhaps more, they held off the attackers, fighting through the corridors of the building and from the rooftop, giving their colleagues time to escape.

Without their heroism, there could have been more causalities, victims.

They were armed only with pistols against assailants carrying automatic weapons and grenades and wearing suicide vests.

Increasingly, the UN is being targeted, in this case precisely because of our support for the Afghan elections. Not counting peacekeepers, 27 UN civilian personnel have lost their lives to violence so far this year, more than half of them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yesterday, I said we will not be deterred. We cannot do it alone. We need the support of the Member States. We must realistically assess the situation and put in place more effective protections for our staff as they perform their crucial tasks. This was the main purpose my briefing to the Security Council.

This morning I convened an urgent meeting of the heads of all UN departments, funds and programmes, and agencies to urgently review the evolving security environment and respond appropriately. I am going to chair the Chief Executive Board meeting tomorrow to discuss this matter where the heads of UN funds and programmes, specialized agencies and Bretton Woods institutions will all participate to discuss the security issues.

This afternoon, I asked the Security Council for its support.

This morning I received a phone from President [Hamid] Karzai of Afghanistan who assured me of the tightened security support for UNAMA and I urged him again that he should take immediate action to strengthen the security measures for the premises and staff, for their safety and security.

Tomorrow, I plan to brief the General Assembly. I will ask for expedited action for our security measures, so that we can meet the dramatically escalated threat to UN staff, now widely considered to be a “soft target,” as well as provide support for victims and their families.

Second round of the Afghan Presidential election is only a week away. As I told the Security Council, we are considering a number of immediate short-term measures.

Those include consolidating UN staff in Kabul and around the country. We are exploring the feasibility of bringing in additional security units to guard UN facilities and will ask international community to step up its support.

This will be particularly important during the interim election period, with a special emphasis on areas outside Kabul where UN security is clearly insufficient.

I conclude by stating the obvious. The UN is a civilian operation. We are working there to help Afghanistan’s people but our mission is not safe and [is] vulnerable. We need the full support of the Afghanistan government and the international community.

Thank you very much.

Security Council Press Statement on Terrorist Attack in Kabul

The following Security Council press statement on Afghanistan was read out today by Council President Le Luong Minh (Viet Nam):

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack at a guesthouse in Kabul on 28 October, which caused deaths and injuries among United Nations staff and members of the Afghan National Security Forces. The members of the Security Council expressed their condolences to the families of the victims, to the Secretary-General and other United Nations colleagues, and to the people and the Government of Afghanistan. The members of the Council reiterate their steadfast support for the role of the United Nations in Afghanistan.

The members of the Security Council noted with serious concern that the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks. The members of the Council strongly condemned the attempts in particular by the Taliban to disrupt the electoral process and destabilize the situation in Afghanistan.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their serious concern at the threats posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida, and other extremist groups, to the local population, national security forces, international military and international assistance efforts in Afghanistan.

The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice, and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Afghan authorities in this regard.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and all obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their determination to combat all forms of terrorism, in accordance with their responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations.

The members of the Security Council reiterated that no terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Afghanistan, which is supported by the people and the Government of Afghanistan and the international community.