Remarks by Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary General of CARE International, UN Press Conference on Afghanistan
New York, January 30, 2023 – Thank you Martin and all the press who joined us today. Your role in shining a spotlight on this tragic situation in Afghanistan has never been more important.
And the situation is now critical.
Two-thirds of Afghanistan’s population, or 28 million people, are in urgent need of assistance, and 6 million are on the brink of famine.
As you know, this crisis is caused by three years of drought-like conditions, devastating economic decline, and the aftermath of four decades of conflict.
During my visit last week, I saw how Afghans are now facing the coldest winter in 15 years. We’ve seen in the news over the past few days that temperatures have plummeted to minus 29 degrees Celsius and that the cold has claimed many lives.
For communities across Afghanistan, especially women and children, the situation is truly terrifying. The continued erosion of women’s and girls’ rights further exacerbates the situation for women and their families.
Together with a local partner, we visited a clinic run by UNICEF in the outskirts of Kabul. These critical services are now up and running again, since the DFA allowed women staff to continue their health and nutrition activities.
I met a mother with 3 of her 7 children, all under the age of 12.
Her youngest child was a baby, but severely malnourished. In freezing conditions, they arrived with holes in their thin clothes and no socks.
She told us she had no money to pay for food or heating, and that she and her children slept hungry and cold every night. 15% of children seeking help had severe acute malnutrition.
This is simply unacceptable.
These and other services are the backbone of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, with local and international NGOs delivering 70% of humanitarian aid.
So there is no ambiguity. Tying her NGO’s hands by banning a woman from providing life-saving assistance to other women is costing lives.
We are advocating for the repeal of the decree and, as Martin said, additional measures in other sectors so that local and international NGOs can continue their life-saving work in a non-discriminatory way. Seeking authorization. We stand firm in our support and solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.