The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres released his latest quarterly report on Afghanistan in which he highlights economic, humanitarian and political situation as well as the condition of human and women’ rights in the country.
The report says there is some progress regarding connectivity, trade and transit, including the signature on of a contract for air traffic control with an UAE company for several international airports.
The UN Secretary General lists the economic progress as follows:
- “The announcement on 10 September of a quadripartite agreement to pilot a railway and road trade corridor connecting Afghanistan to China via Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
- “The announcement on 27 September of imports of gasoline, diesel fuel, liquefied petroleum gas and wheat from the Russian Federation at advantageous prices.
- “On 4 October the extension until March 2023 by the Islamic Republic of Iran of the gasoline transit permit. 31.
- “The de facto authorities regularly engaged with China on the inclusion of Afghanistan in the belt and road initiative and with Turkmenistan on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.
- “On 10 October, the de facto authorities reported that agreements had been reached with Turkmenistan on several issues, including a schedule for land acquisition and pipeline construction, and gas distribution to industrial parks and residents in Herat.
- “On 2 November, in a joint statement, China and Pakistan conveyed consensus on the need to continue their humanitarian and economic assistance for the Afghan people and enhance development cooperation in Afghanistan, including through its inclusion in the China - Pakistan Economic Corridor.
- “On 25 October, the de facto authorities also inaugurated the Mazar-e Sharif International Airport, reconstructed with financial and technical assistance from Uzbekistan.”
But the report calls the reduction in development aid, international financial transactions challenges, the impact on the banking sector and skilled workforce shortages as the most factors adversely affecting the economy since August 2021.
“Exports to India and Pakistan are higher than in the previous year, while essential commodity prices have stabilized, and in some cases declined – possibly owing in part to imports from the Russian Federation,” the report reads.
According to the report, most Afghans remain impoverished with little prospect of meaningful improvement as over 90 per cent of the population is estimated to be food insecure.
The UN has transferred $1.63 billion in cash between December 1 2021 and November 2022, the report says.
“The funds were distributed directly to 19 different United Nations agencies, funds or programmes, the World Bank and 30 international non-governmental organizations through the Afghanistan International Bank,” the report said. “The cash delivery continued to contribute to stabilizing the Afghan currency and serve as an economic stimulus without directly supporting the de facto administration.”
About political situation in Afghanistan, the report says the “political opposition, comprising exiled former Republic officials and political figures, continued to meet and issue statements.”
“Amid those developments, the de facto authorities increased engagement with political figures based in Afghanistan and continued efforts to attract the re turn of exiled Afghans through the Commission for Return and Communication with Former Afghan Officials and Political Figures,” the report said. “Senior de facto officials met Republic -era personalities, including, in October, former parliamentarians, some of whom were returnees, along with former politicians and their cadres.”
Regarding the conditions of human rights, the report said that the “de facto authorities continued to curtail Afghans’ rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.”
Guterres said that in August and September, the UNAMA and UN-Women convened 15 in-country and online consultations in 12 provinces with 207 Afghan women leaders with diverse personal and professional backgrounds.
“They unanimously emphasized the reopening of secondary girls’ schools as the most immediate priority, followed by safety and security (flagged by 71 per cent of participants), and asked the international community to focus on reinstating the full spectrum of rights for women and girls, beyond education,” he added.