Red Cross Head Calls for Engaging With Taliban to Avoid Further Degradation in Afghanistan
06:43 GMT 13.09.2021 (Updated: 08:15 GMT 13.09.2021)
© AFP 2021 / BELEN DIAZRed Cross volunteers talk with Afghan nationals upon their arrival onboard a first Spanish Air Force Airbus A400M carrying "just over 50 people" on board, including Spaniards who still remained in Afghanistan as well as the Afghans and their families who collaborated with Spain, at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base, 30 km away from Madrid, early on August 19, 2021. - Afghans and foreigners have been desperately trying to flee the country since the Taliban's comeback, with the United States and other nations stepping up evacuation airlifts from Kabul.
GENEVA (Sputnik) - The international community needs to develop a concrete policy for interacting with the Taliban* to prevent further escalation of the situation in Afghanistan, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer said.
"I do believe that a policy of engagement with the Taliban is necessary to prevent further degradation of the situation. I think this may be difficult, and, as always been in such situation, failure is easy, success and stabilization is always more complex, more difficult, more engaging, more tiresome, more complex, and it will be in Afghanistan," Maurer said.
The fact that the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan is not internationally recognized can further deepen the humanitarian crisis in the country and aggravate the economic situation, as international organizations and banks cannot finance the unrecognized government, the ICRC chief said.
"We are deeply convinced that it is important to engage because the crisis is too deep and the danger of the destabilization not only of Afghanistan but of whole of the region is real," he added.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said earlier this month that Geneva would host a meeting on Afghanistan at the level of permanent representatives on September 13 to address growing humanitarian needs in the Central Asian nation. The conference will advocate for a swift "scale-up in funding so the lifesaving humanitarian operation can continue," as well as call for "full and unimpeded humanitarian access."
ICRC Satisfied With Taliban Assurances on Organization's Further Work in Afghanistan
The International Committee of the Red Cross is satisfied with the guarantees provided by the Taliban that it will be able to continue its activities in Afghanistan unhindered, ICRC President Peter Maurer said.
"In terms of assurances, I was quite satisfied with responses we got with regard to the continuation of our working modalities, with regard to the possibility for female staff to continue working, for female staff of the Afghan Red Crescent to work ... with regard to insurances for neutral and impartial humanitarian assistance, for independent choice of our collaborators and workers, but also security insurances. In terms of assurances, I think I am very satisfied with the conversations," Maurer said.
The ICRC will have "an important moment of trust-building" between the Taliban and the civilian population at large, the chief said, noting the organization sees the desire and readiness for more humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.
Earlier in September, Maurer arrived in Afghanistan for a three-day trip to assess the humanitarian situation in the country. The ICRC head visited medical and rehabilitation centres, supported by the organization, and met with the Afghan authorities.
ICRC Says Previous Engagement With Taliban Benefits Current Dialogue
Previous engagement between the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Taliban helps the organization maintain dialogue with the current leadership of Afghanistan, Maurer said.
"The fact that the ICRC has worked with the Taliban for many decades, that we were engaging with them when they were first in power, we have engaged them when they were not in power, as a party to conflict, and this pays off, in terms of relationship and trust that we have been able to establish with some of the more prominent figures of the movement," Maurer said.
He recalled that the ICRC had visited some Taliban members, who are among the group's leaders today, when they were in detention, noting that the humanitarian organization has a longer tradition of engaging with the militants than other actors.
"We ... certainly do believe that it is not the moment now to leave, but to stay, to engage, to ensure that we can work, to find reasonable compromises for our work between the values that they [the Taliban] represent and the norms that the international system, including ICRC, is representing," he added.
According to the ICRC head, there is currently a combination of crises in Afghanistan — political, economic and humanitarian — that creates such a difficult situation in the country. Maurer noted that the humanitarian one had aggravated in recent years due to increased hostilities, structural poverty and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maurer believes that Afghanistan is experiencing turmoil in the health system, water supply and sanitation systems, partly to the fact that many experts are now forced to leave their homeland with the Taliban coming to power. The takeover has disrupted supply chains of medicines and medical equipment to hospitals that are now on the brink of collapse, and the food security crisis has become more pronounced due to surges in food prices.
This combination of factors turned Afghanistan into a super fragile country, Maurer said.
*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.