India has told the U.N. Security Council that there is a significant increase in The Islamic State–Khorasan Province (ISIL-K) presence in Afghanistan, as it warned that linkages between proscribed outfits such as Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed and provocative statements by other terror groups pose a direct threat to the region’s peace and stability.
“As we have repeatedly stated at the Security Council, India has direct stakes in ensuring the return of peace and stability, given our position as a contiguous neighbour and long-standing partner of Afghanistan, as well as our strong historical and civilisational linkages to the Afghan people,” India’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said.
Speaking at the UNSC briefing on Afghanistan on Monday requested by Russia under the Chinese presidency of the Council, Ms. Kamboj underlined that on terrorism, the recent findings of the 1988 Sanctions Committee’s Analytical Support and the Sanctions Monitoring Team Report indicate that the current authorities in Afghanistan need to take much stronger action to fulfil their anti-terrorism commitments.
“There is a significant increase in the presence of ISIL-K in the country and their capacity to carry out attacks. ISIL-K, with its base reportedly in Afghanistan, continues to issue threats of terrorist attacks on other countries,” she said.
Ms. Kamboj told the Council that the series of attacks at religious places of the minority community, including the recent attack at the Sikh Gurudwara on June 18 in Kabul followed by another bomb explosion near the same Gurudwara on 27 July, is “hugely alarming.
“The linkages between groups listed by the U.N. Security Council such as the Lashkar-e-Taiaba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed as well as provocative statements made by other terrorist groups operating out of Afghanistan pose a direct threat to the peace and stability of the region,’ she said.
In her address, Ms. Kamboj stressed the need to see concrete progress in ensuring that “such proscribed terrorists, entities, or their aliases do not get any support, tacit or direct, either from Afghan soil or from the terror sanctuaries based in the region.”
On the political front, she said India continues to call for an inclusive dispensation in Afghanistan which represents all sections of Afghan society.
A broad-based, inclusive, and representative formation is necessary for both domestic and international engagement, she said as she expressed New Delhi’s concern at developments in Afghanistan which directly impact the well-being of women and girls.
“We join others in calling for the protection of the rights of women and girls, and to ensure that the long-fought gains of the last two decades are not reversed,” the Indian envoy said.
U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths told the Council that Afghanistan is not just a humanitarian crisis but “an economic crisis. It’s a climate crisis. It’s a hunger crisis. It’s a financial crisis. But it is not a hopeless crisis.”
He noted that humanitarian organisations have done their utmost to provide the population in Afghanistan with a lifeline.
Mr. Griffiths said close to 19 million people are facing acute levels of food insecurity in Afghanistan, including 6 million people at risk of famine. More than half of the population—some 24 million people—need humanitarian assistance.
An estimated three million children are acutely malnourished, including over one million children estimated to be suffering from the most severe, life-threatening form of malnutrition. "And without specialised treatment, these children could die,” he said.
Around 25 million people are now living in poverty and three quarters of people’s income is spent on food, the U.N. official said.
“There’s been a 50% decline in households receiving remittances; unemployment could reach 40%; and inflation is rising due to increased global prices, import constraints and currency depreciation,” he said.
“These are the figures and they’re devastating and frankly they’re difficult to comprehend. We worry that they will soon become worse. Once the cold weather sets in, food and fuel prices—already high—will skyrocket, and families will have to choose between feeding their children, sending them to school, taking them to a doctor when they fall sick, or keeping them warm,” Mr. Griffiths said.
India’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan
Ms. Kamboj told the Council that in response to the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people as well as to the urgent appeals made by the United Nations, India has dispatched several shipments of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
These include 32 tonnes of medical assistance in ten batches, which includes essential life-saving medicines, anti-TB medicines and 5,00,000 doses of the COVID vaccine.
These medical consignments have been handed over to the World Health Organisation and the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul.
India has also dispatched over 40,000 MTs of wheat to Afghanistan so far. In order to ensure fair and just distribution of India’s wheat assistance, the Government of India has signed an agreement with the World Food Program for the distribution of wheat within Afghanistan.
Further, in order to closely monitor and coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders for the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and in continuation of India’s engagement with the Afghan people, an Indian technical team has also been deployed at our Embassy in Kabul, she said.
Ms. Kamboj recalled that during India’s Presidency of the Security Council in August last year, UNSC resolution 2593 was adopted that set forth expectations of the international community in clear and objective terms.
These included, ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries; formation of a truly inclusive and representative government; combating terrorism and drug trafficking; and preserving the rights of women, children, and minorities.
“With these benchmarks in mind, the present situation is indeed one of concern,” she said.
Ms. Kamboj reiterated that India’s approach to Afghanistan, as always, will be guided by its historical friendship and special relationship with the Afghan people.