With Afghanistan "hanging by a thread" six months after the Taliban takeover, the world cannot abandon the country now - for the sake of its people and overall global security, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday.
"At this moment, we need the global community - and this Council - to put their hands on the wheel of progress, provide resources, and prevent Afghanistan from spiralling any further," Guterres said in his briefing to the UN Security Council on Afghanistan.
Guterres also outlined action for the de facto rulers of the country, the Taliban, calling on the fundamentalists to expand opportunity and security for Afghans, uphold human rights, and demonstrate real commitment to be part of the international community, the UN said in a statement.
The Secretary-General said Afghanistan has long been unfairly used as a platform for political agendas, geopolitical advantage, ideological dominance, brutal conflicts and terrorism.
"As a matter of moral responsibility - and regional and global security and prosperity - we cannot abandon the people of Afghanistan," he said, adding Afghans need peace, hope, and help, and they need it now.
The country's economy is collapsing amid another brutal winter, and daily life has become "a frozen hell". Over half of all citizens are facing extreme levels of hunger, and some families have been forced to sell their babies so they can buy food, said the statement.
Meanwhile, sanctions and mistrust by the global banking system have frozen nearly USD 9 billion in central bank assets, and vital systems are starved of much-needed funds.
As the economy spirals downward, human rights are also losing ground.
The UN chief highlighted the situation of women and girls, who are once again shut out of offices and classrooms. He also appealed for the release of women activists who were arrested or abducted recently.
Guterres reminded the Council that earlier this month, the UN launched a more than USD 4.4 billion appeal for Afghanistan to keep the food, education and economic systems from collapsing.
He urged countries to suspend rules and conditions that constrict both the Afghan economy and lifesaving humanitarian operations.
The Secretary-General underscored the need to "jump-start" the Afghan economy through increased liquidity, including by freeing-up frozen currency reserves and through cash injections.
The UN chief also urged the Taliban to demonstrate real commitment to be part of the international community. "The window for trust-building is open. But this trust must be earned," he said.
Afghanistan has been a fertile breeding ground for terrorist groups for far too long, and the UN chief underscored the critical need to promote security and fight terrorism.
"If we do not act and help Afghans weather this storm, the region and the world will pay a heavy price," he said, urging the de facto authorities to work together with the global community to suppress the terrorism threat. (ANI)