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UN approves new Afghanistan mandate, drawing Russian rebuke

Google Oneindia News

Kabul, Mar 18: The UN Security Council voted Thursday to renew the UN's assistance mission to Afghanistan for another year.

The UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons will continue in her role for the renewed mission.

UN approves new Afghanistan mandate, drawing Russian rebuke

Russia abstained from voting but the vote passed with 14 votes of the 15 members on the Security Council.

Norway's ambassador to the UN Mona Juul said the resolution that was drafted by Norway gave the UN "a solid mandate to engage with all relevant actors on all aspects of its mandate."

The US deputy chief of mission to the UN Jeffrey DeLaurentis said the vote represents "an important step'' in aiding the Afghan people who are facing "urgent and mutually reinforcing challenges.''

Why is Afghanistan in need of assistance?

The UN and other aid agencies have said half of Afghanistan's 38 million people face starvation. The country has known war continuously since 1979.

International aid to Afghanistan dried up after Kabul fell to the Taliban last August as foreign currency reserves held abroad were frozen. Numerous Taliban leaders have been sanctioned by the US and the UN.

The Taliban government is still not recognized by the international community. The fundamentalist group's return to power after nearly 20 years of NATO-backed governments has been marked by a sharp decline in the Central Asian nation's economy.

What is the purpose of the UN mission to Afghanistan?

The UN established the mission 20 years ago after the US deposed the Taliban for sheltering al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington D.C.

Priorities for the renewed mission include delivering aid, funding humanitarian activities, protecting human rights and women's rights.

When the Taliban previously ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, women were forbidden from working, girls education was banned, and a host of additional prohibitions restricted their public lives, confining them largely to the home.

Why did Russia object to renewing the Afghanistan assistance mission?

Russia wanted the 15 members on the Security Council to refer to "de-facto authorities" and mention the need for the host country to approve the UN's presence.

Instead, the resolution mentions "relevant authorities" and nothing is said about the host country's approval.

In refusing the vote, Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called out what he termed the "stubborn ignorance of the new realities" of Taliban control in Afghanistan.

Russia's decision to abstain from voting on the UN Security Council comes as Moscow faces unprecedented geopolitical isolation, a consequence of the brutal invasion of Ukraine it launched on February 24.

Source: DW

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