Photo: Gov.UK

British Ambassador to the UN warns the Taliban of consequences for its actions

The British Ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, called for increased humanitarian aid and clear consequences for the Taliban in a speech to the Security Council on Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Woodward said that the situation for the Afghan people has been “defined by humanitarian suffering, economic hardship, and a relentless assault on human rights” since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021.

She cited figures showing that two-thirds of the Afghan population are in humanitarian need in 2023, economic output has decreased by over 20 percent since 2021, and over two million girls between years seven and 11 are unable formally to access secondary school education.

Woodward said that the Taliban has issued over 50 decrees restricting the rights of women and girls and impeded the UN’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance at a time of dire need.

“The trajectory is negative and options are limited,” she said. “The Afghan people remain our priority – so how can we collectively navigate the months ahead?”

Woodward said that the UK remains committed to providing support for Afghans and has contributed well over half a billion dollars to address the humanitarian crisis since April 2021. She called on other member states to step up funding, noting that the UN’s revised Humanitarian Appeal for Afghanistan for 2023 for $3.2 billion is currently only 14 percent funded.

Woodward also called on the international community to remain united in its message to the Taliban and to match clear expectations with clear consequences.

“While the Taliban continue on this path, international recognition will not be on the table, sanctions relief and development assistance will not come,” she said.

Woodward concluded by saying that Afghanistan cannot be self-reliant when 50 percent of its population is excluded from society and that history has shown that there can be no stable and durable peace whilst large swathes of society and ethnic groups are excluded.

“We must all work together to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and to build a better future for the Afghan people,” she said.