Remarks to the press
Kabul, Afghanistan, 2 November 2009I have come to Kabul to express my solidarity with the UN staff and Afghan people at this difficult time.
In the aftermath of last week's attack, I wanted to see the security situation at first-hand, and I wanted to talk directly with my own dear colleagues, with whom I had three meetings. I [also] had good meetings with first President [Hamid] Karzai and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah this afternoon.
Afghanistan's elections have been among the most difficult the United Nations has ever supported.
Voters have had to contend with insecurity, poor infrastructure, fraud, and weak or partial institutions.
The process has also been a battle for the future of Afghanistan's political system. I was already on my way when I heard the news that Dr. Abdullah Abdullah had opted to discontinue his participation in the second round. I am sure that due process and observance of the rules will prevail and the Afghan Independent Election Commission will apply constitutionally correct procedures.
Afghanistan was among the earliest Member States of the United Nations. With our various projects and missions we have been part of the community for more than half a century. We are proud that some 80 per cent of our staff are Afghan nationals, and I express my deep admiration for all those national staff of Afghanistan.
I have the greatest admiration for the extraordinary dedication of the women and men of the United Nations, voluntary humanitarian workers, NGOs and other members of the international community, including ISAF [the International Security Assistance Force], for their dedication and commitment.
My main goal this time was to insist that everything be done to ensure the security of all staff, Afghan and internationals. We have suffered a grievous attack, but our work will continue. Many Afghans seem to be worried about what lies ahead, whether international support will hold firm.
There has been media speculation that the United Nations is evacuating [staff from] Afghanistan or pulling out of Pakistan. We will not be deterred. We cannot be deterred, and we must not be deterred and the work of the United Nations will continue. I repeat again, we at the United Nations will continue to stand with the people of Afghanistan in their quest for stability and peace.
We will not allow our actions to be determined by fear. We will uphold our principles. We will champion peace and in doing so we will honour the memories of our staff in serving that cause.
In my meeting with President Karzai, I have asked him to provide all necessary support and assistance under his power to strengthen the security for the United Nations staff in Afghanistan. And he assured me again that he will do all to strengthen the security support for the UNAMA [United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan] mission in Kabul.