Considering the scheduled U.N. Security Council vote on Wednesday, December 22, at 9:00 a.m. EST, on a humanitarian exception in the 1988 sanctions program to support the people of Afghanistan’s access to lifesaving humanitarian relief, InterAction issued the following statement reflecting the collective perspective of its humanitarian NGO Members working in Afghanistan:
The U.N. Security Council must act urgently to provide an exception for humanitarian action in the sanctions regime regarding individuals and entities associated with the Taliban (the “1988 Sanctions Regime”). This is critical to ensure that humanitarian aid can continue to flow and humanitarian actors can rapidly scale up operations to effectively meet the spiraling needs across Afghanistan.
Afghanistan stands at a precipice. Nearly 23 million people face acute food insecurity, with 8.7 million just one step away from famine, including 1 million children on the brink of starvation. Nearly 700,000 people, mostly women and children, have been displaced. The economy is on the brink of collapse. Critical workers, including health and education staff, are not being paid. Health facilities are experiencing extreme shortages of medicines, medical equipment, and supplies.
In August of this year, the Security Council passed a resolution calling for “strengthened efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan,” and the support of “all donors and international humanitarian actors to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.” Yet, four months on, the people of Afghanistan are still waiting for this assistance to materialize.
Without a clear humanitarian exception, U.N. sanctions will remain an obstacle to the major humanitarian scale-up that the Afghan people need right now. Humanitarian actors need legal clarity to operate. The Afghan winter has already set in. The Security Council must not wait a minute longer to facilitate humanitarian action and to enable us to reach all people in need in Afghanistan. We must spare no effort to save lives.