Blinken discusses Afghanistan situation with UN, Red Cross

Blinken also highlighted the United States’ latest contribution of more than USD 308 million towards humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan and the U.S.’s ongoing commitment to support the people of Afghanistan…reports Asian Lite News

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday (local time) virtually met UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer and discussed the Afghanistan situation.

“Today, Blinken met virtually with UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer about efforts to strengthen the provision of urgently needed humanitarian assistance and other activities supporting basic human needs in Afghanistan and Ethiopia,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

Blinken also highlighted the United States’ latest contribution of more than USD 308 million towards humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan and the U.S.’s ongoing commitment to support the people of Afghanistan, the statement said, adding that the funding will go to humanitarian organisations and help provide lifesaving protection and shelter, essential health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services.

Blinken, Under-Secretary-General Griffiths, and ICRC President Maurer discussed how to further protect and support aid groups in overcoming challenges related to Afghanistan’s extremely difficult operational landscape to ensure that aid reaches the people who need it most and how to expand the pool of humanitarian donors, read the statement.

US Secretary of State noted the Department’s robust and growing engagement on women’s issues in Afghanistan at senior levels, including the recent appointment of Rina Amiri as Special Envoy on Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights.

The Secretary, Under-Secretary-General Griffiths, and ICRC President Maurer also discussed the urgent need for a cessation of hostilities, including air strikes, in northern Ethiopia as well as steps toward facilitating a political settlement.

The Secretary emphasized that all parties to the conflict must allow humanitarian access and alleviate suffering for all people in need in northern Ethiopia, regardless of ethnicity, the statement added.

Military equipment left in Afghanistan

Citing concerns over security, US Congress members called for the overdue Department of Defence report on US equipment left behind in Afghanistan on Friday.

US Congress members in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for an overdue report on US equipment and property removed, left behind or destroyed in Afghanistan with the departure of the US soldiers from Afghanistan in mid-August of last year, according to Tolo News.

In a letter sent to the Department of Defense, 28 US representatives criticized the DOD over the delay in sending the report to Congress. It was scheduled for December 29, 2021.

“It is with the gravest concern that even after a three-month window to produce the required information, the DOD still has not given Congress an accurate accounting of United States equipment still in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where terrorist groups are reconstituting,” the members stated in their letter.

Earlier, the representatives said lack of information about the US military equipment makes it difficult for them to calculate the US’s investment and expenditure in Afghanistan. “This lack of information prevents Congress from being able to accurately and effectively conduct oversight over the tens of billions of dollars of equipment invested in Afghanistan over the past 20 years and creates vulnerabilities in our national security,” the letter reads.

The letter from the US Congress comes at a time when Washington is facing critics for the way it handled the war in Afghanistan which paved the way for the takeover of the Taliban in Kabul last August.

The representatives also criticized the Biden Administration for the delay, which, they noted, was paid for by US taxpayers, according to Tolo News. (ANI)

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